BEIRUT: Lebanon and Cyprus should cooperate and benefit from shared natural resources including gas in their maritime borders, Cypriot House Speaker Yiannakis Omirou said Monday.
“We should cooperate in order to benefit from the natural resources shared between the two countries such as water and gas,” Omirou told reporters at a joint news conference with Speaker Nabih Berri in Ain el-Tineh.
Omirou said earlier Monday his visit to Lebanon aims at improving ties between the two countries.
"Cyprus and Lebanon are friendly states with excellent relationships," Omirou told reporters upon arrival at Rafik Hariri International Airport.
"Both face mutual problems and efforts should be made to improve the relationship," he added.
Omirou, heading a Cypriot parliamentary delegation, met with President Michel Sleiman at Baabda Palace and is expected to hold talks with Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Najib Mikati.
Lebanon and Cyprus have been in talks to resolve the disputed maritime area that both Beirut and Tel Aviv have lalid claims to.
The 874-square-kilometer area is said to be rich in natural gas.
Lebanon also argues an Israeli-Cypriot bilateral agreement signed in 2010 and ratified in 2011 conflicts with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and is a violation of the country’s maritime border.
Meanwhile, Berri said Monday that Lebanon does not have a dispute with Cyprus but that the latter’s main issue is with Israel.
“There is no dispute at all over Lebanon's border but the delay is over the borders between us and [Israel]," he told reporters during joint news conference with
According to Berri, the two discussed several ways to improve ties in the tourism sector including searching for old ships that have been downed in the ocean.
Both officials also voiced willingness to cooperate in projects for their gas resources, the speaker said.
Berri, who visited the Island earlier this year, also praised Cyprus for providing shelter for thousands of Lebanese who escaped to the country in the 2006 war with Israel.