Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants, Nassif Hitti, on Friday received his Cypriot counterpart, Nikos Khristodoulidis, with whom he held a 10-minute closed-door meeting, followed by a joint press conference.
In the wake of the meeting, Hitti said that talks focused on the need to hold the planned tripartite summit between Lebanon, Cyprus, and Greece in a bid to strengthen joint work between the three countries, saying it is an essential step in the right direction to move forward and meet common challenges.
“Lebanese-Cypriot relations are distinguished, especially with Cyprus being the closest country to Lebanon, not only geographically but in many different areas; the Mediterranean brings us together and we share many customs and traditions,” Hitti said.
He recalled that Cyprus has always opened its doors to the Lebanese in times of serious crisis.
“Today, the oil and gas sector hold a promising future for both countries,” he said, hoping that natural resources will reflect prosperity, development, and security, and that wealth will not be a source of instability, “which some may try to exploit.”
“Today we discussed ways to strengthen economic relations between Lebanon and Cyprus, and the role that the latter can play in helping Lebanon recover again financially and economically,” Hitti added. “In other words, the stability of Lebanon is also a regional and international requirement,” he confirmed, stressing the importance of forming partnerships between the two private sectors in the fields of tourism, agriculture, industry and other fields.
The Foreign Minister went on to say that the deal of the century had been discussed, as well as its implications on the region and its stability.
“We have assured Lebanon’s principled position, which is attached to the concept of a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace,” he said, reiterating that peace will not be fair if it is not permanent and global.
Moreover, Hitti said that the Lebanese position was based on the Arab Peace Initiative, which was adopted at Beirut Arab Summit in 2002, as well as on Security Council and relevant United Nations resolutions, most specifically the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.
“We have also addressed the situation in Syria and the need to move forward with a political solution,” the Lebanese Minister said, explaining that all conflicts in the region will only be resolved by a political solution.
“The international and regional community is required to provide support, information, and recommendations on this issue. We also discussed the Syrian displacement crisis, which burdened the Lebanese economy with charges exceeding thirty billion dollars, and we stressed the need for the return of displaced Syrians to stable and safe zones,” Hitti added.
For his part, the Cypriot Minister said that the first tripartite ministerial meeting of the foreign ministers of Lebanon, Greece, and Cyprus was held back in April during his last visit to Beirut. “I am announcing today the start of preparations for the first tripartite summit in Nicosia between the leaders of our three countries next spring,” he added.
“I confirm our insistence on working to build a path of respect and cooperation between neighboring countries, and such a cooperation will be established in a regional platform which will improve the living conditions of the peoples of the region and allow the countries of the region to work together to meet looming challenges and make use of all the available capacities,” Khristodoulidis said.
“In the context of Lebanon’s relations with the European Union, I emphasize that the Union is determined to continue working to strengthen relations with Lebanon, especially in common interests. Cyprus will remain the first defender of Lebanon and its people within the framework of the European Union,” he added.
“The common denominator between Lebanon and Cyprus is the flexibility that both countries show in the face of difficulties; we have to overcome the challenges we are currently facing,” affirmed Khristodoulidis.
He also described as “positive and open” the talks he had held with Minister Hitti, expressing satisfaction at being the Minister of Foreign Affairs to come to Beirut after the formation of the new government, deeming it “an achievement which we salute at this precise time.”
He added that Minister Hitti had informed him that the government was serious about moving forward with the necessary reforms.
“Based on our talks today, I have become convinced that the future of our bilateral relations is very promising, which will contribute positively to stability, cooperation, security and peace in the region,” Khristodoulidis added.
“Cyprus will be a fervent supporter of the stability, sovereignty, security, and prosperity of Lebanon and my presence here today is only proof of the sincerity of our will to support Lebanon and to work together by all possible means,” the Cypriot Minister pledged.
Khristodoulidis finally said that energy cooperation between Lebanon and Cyprus was of extreme importance given the geographical proximity between the two countries, the common commitment to international law, the United Nations agreement on the sea law, and the demarcation agreement of the exclusive economic zone signed between Lebanon and Cyprus.
“The fact that major oil companies operate in the marine regions of Lebanon and Cyprus provides a solid foundation for strengthening cooperation between us in the energy field through our cooperation,” Khristodoulidis restated.
On the other hand, Minister Hitti separately met with UN resident coordinator, Philippe Lazzarini, who paid him a protocol visit.
Source: National News Agency