Israeli PM makes historic visit to Cyprus

NICOSIA — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu paid a historic visit to Cyprus on Thursday, declaring the two countries? warming ties a ?natural relationship? in a reflection of the rapidly shifting alliances in this turbulent part of the world.

The visit — the first ever by an Israeli leader to the nearby island nation — was also a testimony to warming ties that have emerged from political and economic turmoil, as well as new economic prospects. It followed a succession of reciprocal visits by senior officials from both countries and several low-level agreements.

Netanyahu’s office said the one-day visit ?was designed to strengthen the improving ties between the two nations.? The two sides will discuss cooperation in energy matters, agriculture, health and maritime research, and sign a disaster relief and a search and rescue agreement, it said.

?It?s a natural relationship for us,? Netanyahu said at the start of his meeting with Cypriot President Dimitris Christofias.

Cyprus government spokesman Stefanos Stefanou told The Associated Press beforehand that the visit ?illustrates the great dynamic driving forward the improvement in relations between the two countries.? [AP]