UAE, Cyprus, Greece and Israel discuss enhanced co-operation in landmark talks

Host Cyprus hails renewed UAE-Israel relations for making diplomatic meeting possible

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The UAE held talks on the situation in eastern Mediterranean with the foreign ministers of Cyprus, Greece and Israel, as the four countries discussed closer co-operation in trade, investment, manufacturing, technology, science and health services.

The Foreign Ministry of Cyprus, which hosted the discussions in Paphos, said the first meeting of the four officials was made possible by the recent normalisation of relations between the UAE and Israel.

The politicians also discussed Tehran, with Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi saying his country will do "whatever it takes" to ensure that Iran does not acquire nuclear weapons.

"We also took time to discuss challenges that Iran and Hezbollah and other extremists pose to the stability of the Middle East and to regional peace," he said.

The UAE was represented by Dr Anwar Gargash, Diplomatic Adviser to President Sheikh Khalifa. The Covid-19 situation and energy security were also on the agenda.

Dr Gargash said the UAE believed holding such conversations regularly would solidify relations between the countries, allowing for stronger levels of co-operation in addressing the challenges facing the region.

“The UAE is seeking an ambitious and positive agenda in the region,” he said after the meeting.

He said the Abraham Accords were driven by “the necessity of an alternative strategic view of the region based on stability, prosperity and opportunity”.

“The UAE shares with its friends and allies a common understanding of the need to engage in joint efforts to support regional stability and that the political solution is the only way to resolve and end the current crises in our region,” Dr Gargash said.

Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides said the meeting of the “like-minded countries” after the Abraham Accords signified a “new era our region has entered”.

He said a new narrative was being written for the region thanks to closer ties, “one that is cracking the glass ceiling of the prevailing restrictive narrative of our neighbourhood as a region of turmoil, conflict and crisis”.

Greece’s Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias updated his counterparts after his meeting on Thursday with Turkish officials.

Cyprus and Greece are involved in a dispute with Turkey over maritime territory in the gas-rich eastern Mediterranean, although there are signs that tensions could be easing.

However, Mr Dendias clashed with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu after talks designed to show the neighbours were putting aside their differences.

After Mr Dendias accused Turkey of breaching Greece’s sovereign rights and reiterated that EU sanctions against Ankara were still on the table, Mr Cavusoglu hit back, calling those remarks unacceptable.