Egypt's Sissi Visits Cyprus in Shadow of Soured Relations With Turkey

Europe should buy its gas from Egypt and Cyprus, Egypt's president says; Cypriot leader promises to promote Egypt, EU ties

Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, second from left, and Cyprus' President Nicos Anastasiades, left, review a military guard of honor following the Egyptian president's arrival at the Presidential Palace in the Cypriot capital Nicosia for an official visit Monday, Nov. 20, 2017. El-Sissi's visit aims to forge closer ties with Egypt's neighbor and comes a day ahead of the three-way meeting that will include the Greek prime minister. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
Petros Karadjias/AP

Europe should buy its gas from undersea Mediterranean fields discovered off Cyprus and Egypt, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi said on Monday, at the start of a two-day official visit to Cyprus.

Sissi met with his Cypriot counterpart Nicos Anastasiades on Monday morning and suggested that energy-hungry Europe take advantage of the proximity of both Egypt and Cyprus to the continent.

Anastasiades said he hopes the gas discoveries can catalyze cooperation for the sake of regional stability and prosperity.

Cyprus will promote closer Egypt-European Union relations, Anastasiades said, adding that Egypt constitutes an “absolutely necessary strategic partner” for the 28-member bloc on issues including security, energy and migration.

The Egyptian president also said he and Anastasiades agreed on ways of countering the regional extremism threat.

Cairo stated earlier that the leaders would be discussing, among other things, ways to combat global terrorism and deal with illegal migrants, as well as economic issues.

Ahead of the presidential visit, teams from the two countries discussed stepping up cooperation in military and intelligence in order to fight terrorism. Egypt has been dealing with the problem of terrorism in general, especially in the Sinai.

Sissi is also sheduled to be meeting with Greek leaders during this Cyprus visit.

The Egyptian newspaper Almasry Alyoum reported Monday that cooperation with Greece is especially important to Egypt at this time. Relations between Cairo and Turkey, led by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, soured after the Muslim Brotherhood was ousted from government in Egypt.

All the nations involved, Egypt, Cyprus and Greece, and others too, are worried that as ISIS gets pushed out of Iraq and Syria, its fighters will try to flee to their borders, in the guise of refugees.