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Greece, Cyprus, Israel plan trilateral leaders’ summit

Netanyahu and Cypriot President-elect Nikos Christodoulides speak by phone and discuss cooperation on trade, defense, energy and tourism.

Then-Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulidis meets with then-Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem, March 22, 2018. Photo by Mark Neyman/GPO.
Then-Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulidis meets with then-Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem, March 22, 2018. Photo by Mark Neyman/GPO.

A summit attended by the leaders of Greece, Cyprus and Israel is planned for later this year, the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office announced Monday.

The gathering will take place amid burgeoning relations between Israel and both Cyprus and Greece over the last decade and a half in a variety of fields including tourism, medicine, cybersecurity, energy and military cooperation.

The decision to organize such a regional meeting was made during a Sunday night phone call between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the president-elect of Cyprus, Nikos Christodoulides.

The two men discussed bilateral cooperation in various fields, a readout of the conversation said.

The Cypriot leader, who will assume office on Tuesday, offered condolences over Sunday’s Palestinian terrorist attack in which two Israeli brothers were killed. He is expected to visit Israel soon at the prime minister’s invitation.

“Nikos Christodoulides and Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the strategic significance of the relationship between the two countries, as well as the prospects for further strengthening in areas such as, among others, the economy, defense, energy and tourism,” a Cypriot press statement read.

The two leaders spoke as construction of an “energy highway” that will connect the national electricity grids of Israel, Cyprus and Greece is underway.

The mammoth, European Union-backed project comes as the year-old war in Ukraine and sanctions on Russia are fueling a global energy crisis that has hit the E.U. hard, spotlighting European energy dependence.

The creation of the electric cable link appears to have superseded a separate project for a gas pipeline linking the three countries to Europe via Greece. The viability of that project—known as the EastMed pipeline project—as well as the quantity of the gas that could be transported is under review.

Last year, Cyprus reportedly purchased Iron Dome rocket interception batteries from Israel amid Turkish threats.

The Eastern Mediterranean island has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded in response to an Athens-inspired coup seeking union with Greece.

Only Turkey recognizes a Turkish Cypriot declaration of independence and Turkish Cypriots reject the internationally recognized Cypriot government’s authority over the island’s northeastern third.

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