Cyprus on agenda in Biden visit to Istanbul

The prospects for the resumption of stalled peace talks on Cyprus and the issue of energy security were among the matters discussed on Saturday by US Vice President Joe Biden and Turkish government officials during a visit by the former to Istanbul.

Biden underlined the need to allay tensions in the eastern Aegean in his talks with the Turkish officials. And in an interview with the newspaper Haberturk, he noted that a Cyprus settlement would boost energy security and prosperity in the region.

Although the key aim of Biden’s visit to Turkey was to ease strains over the crisis in Syria and urge Ankara to support a crackdown against Islamic State jihadists, the Cyprus issue was high on the agenda, chiefly due to a gas row between Nicosia and Ankara. The Turkish seismic vessel Barbaros has been sailing in the waters of Cyprus’s Exclusive Economic Zone since October 20, prompting the condemnation of Greek, Cypriot, Egyptian and Israeli authorities.

During his talks with Biden, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said both sides should acknowledge that natural resources off the island’s coastline belong to both communities. He did not indicate, however, that Ankara would stop actions that have fuelled tensions in the eastern Aegean.

In an interview with Sunday’s Kathimerini, Cypriot government spokesman Nikos Christodoulides called Turkey’s continued violation of Cyprus’s EEZ “barbaric.”

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