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Israeli Foreign Minister Set for Cyprus Visit

liberman visit to cyprusIsraeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman is set for an official visit to Cyprus on 16-18th April, accompanied by foreign ministry officials and Chairman of Mekorot-Israel National Water Co. Alexander Wiznizer.

Liberman arrives at Larnaca Airport from Tel Aviv Monday morning and will be staying at the Four Seasons Hotel in Limassol. He will meet with Foreign Minister Dr. Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis. Her delegation will consiste of foreign ministry officials Petros Eftychiou, Euripides Evriviades, Tasos Tzionis of the division of energy and maritime police, and Dimitris Hatziargyrou, Ambassador of Cyprus to Israel.

Liberman will then meet with President Demetris Christofias at the Presidential Palace and hold a press release. During his visit he will also meet with Minister of Commerce Neoklis Sylikiotis and party leaders.

Liberman's visit is the latest in a series of high-profile diplomatic bilateral meetings between Cyprus and Israel. The two countries have rapidly improved relations since the discovery of large reserves of hydrocarbons in the sea between Cyprus and Israel.

In January, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Cyprus following a number of agreements on common defence and exchange of intelligence.  The defence agreements follow earlier economic agreements to delineate each nation's maritime border or Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and to cooperate on energy issues such as exploring for offshore gas and oil.

Cyprus-Israeli relations have also improved dramatically since the alliance between Turkey and Israel waned over a row to do with the deaths of nine Turkish activists at the hands of Israeli special forces in 2010.

On September 7th, 2011, Eliades met with Israeli Ambassador Michael Harari and discussed strengthening bilateral military cooperation. On the same day, Turkey announced its decision to suspend military and commercial agreements with Israel.

Tensions escalated in the Eastern Mediterranean last year over the issue of offshore gas and oil drilling after US company Noble Energy started exploring for gas reserves in Cyprus' Block 12 at the beginning of October.

In response, Turkey boosted its naval presence in the Eastern Mediterranean, claiming that Cyprus' agreement on maritime borders with Israel is null-and-void, and asserting the right to 'freedom of navigation.'

Israel, Greece and Russia took up defensive positions in response to Turkey's aggression over Cyprus' natural resources. These countries made public statements in support of Cyprus' sovereign right to its offshore reserves, and said they will defend this right based on the International Law of the Sea.

Since then, Noble Energy discovered between 5-8 Tcf of natural gas in Block 12 and in further developments, Cyprus and Israel are discussing building an LNG plant on the island plus a pipeline that would supply Europe.

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