BEIRUT: Cypriot Defense Minister Dimitris Eliadis held talks with Lebanese officials over the weekend on several issues, including bilateral military cooperation, the situation on the Lebanon-Syria border and the disputed maritime Exclusive Economic Zone. Following his meeting with Defense Minister Fayez Ghosn Saturday, Eliadis described Lebanon as being a focal point for the Middle East, adding that stability in Lebanon serves to stabilize the entire region.
For his part, Ghosn explained the tasks the Lebanese Army is undertaking domestically, on the border with Syria, and in the south in collaboration with the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon.
He stressed the need to support the Army and ensure it receives all the aid it requires to carry out its tasks.
Ghosn also spoke about the situation in Syria, expressing his hope that the 18-month-old crisis will end through political means that stop violence and enable the reforms called for by the Syrian people.
Since the uprising against President Bashar Assad began in mid-March of 2011, the estimated 550 km border with Lebanon has witnessed several violations and shelling by the Syrian army that have seen innocent civilians killed or wounded.
Earlier, Eliadis met with President Michel Sleiman at Baabda Palace, where they discussed bilateral military and security ties, and civil defense cooperation in combating forest fires as well as air and sea rescue.
Eliadis described his meeting with Prime Minister Najib Mikati as excellent, adding that he voiced his country’s aims to develop and strengthen ties between the two countries.
The Cypriot minister said that Lebanon and Cyprus are both keen on improving their already strong bond with one another.
Eliadis’ talks with Sleiman and Ghosn, as well as those held with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, also focused on Lebanon’s Exclusive Economic Zone, a maritime area rich in oil and natural gas.
Lebanon’s Cabinet is currently studying a recommendation by the Foreign Affairs Ministry to propose a new Exclusive Economic Zone for Lebanon which would bypass current boundary disputes with Israel and Cyprus and move ahead with oil and gas exploration in the country’s waters.