Greece, Cyprus sign key deal for sea operations

Greece and Cyprus have sealed a bilateral deal allowing for joint search-and-rescue operations between the two Mediterranean allies.

The agreement was signed Monday in Athens between Greek Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos and his Cypriot counterpart Ioannis Kasoulides.

The deal came a week after Nicosia halted UN-brokered talks on reunifying the divided island in response to Turkey’s plan to search for gas and oil in waters where Cyprus is already licensed to drill.

“You should all appreciate the timing of [this pact] between Greece and Cyprus,” Venizelos told reporters.

Kasoulides said that the two allies are examining a wide range of options “depending on how [Turkey] choses to escalate its provocations.”

According to an official statement released in Nicosia, Monday’s deal provides for the coordination of search-and-rescue operations by the Joint Rescue Coordination Centers of Larnaca and of Piraeus. It also enables the exchange of information as well as joint searches and search drills.

During the meeting Monday, it was announced that the first trilateral summit between Greece, Cyprus and Egypt will take place in Cairo on November 9. A meeting between the three countries’ foreign ministers will be held in Nicosia at an earlier date. Greece and Egypt are seeking to carve out the two countries’ maritime zones.

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