Netanyahu to visit Greek Cyprus on first official visit v

Netanyahu to visit Greek Cyprus on first official visit
v
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is preparing to visit Greek Cyprus on Feb. 16, marking the first such visit by an Israeli prime minister and showing that ties between the two countries are growing Today`s Zaman reported

Netanyahu's visit to Greek Cyprus will include discussions on bilateral issues as well as cooperation over energy, the AP reported on Thursday, citing the deputy head of mission at Israel's Nicosia embassy, Shani Cooper-Zubida.

The timing of the visit drew attention, since it comes during a period of great tension between Israel and Turkey following disagreements between the countries over the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza.

Greek Cyprus has also been high on the Turkish foreign policy agenda. Turkey has protested at ongoing Greek Cypriot oil and natural gas operations taking place in the waters around the island, arguing that the profitable resources belong to Turkish Cypriots. Greek Cypriots also signed an agreement with Israel on the delineation of their territorial waters in Dec. 2010, drawing a bitter reaction from Turkey since the island is still engaged in territorial disputes between Turkish and Greek communities.

Turkey has interpreted closer cooperation between Israel and Greek Cyprus on issues such as defense as a sign that the rift between Israel and Turkey is encouraging a closer relationship between the two countries.

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