BEIRUT: Cypriot Defense Minister Dimitris Eliadis held discussions Saturday with Lebanese officials over a wide range of 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, Eliadis described Lebanon as a focal point of 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 needs to carry out its tasks.
Ghosn also spoke about the situation in Syria, expressing the hope that the 18-month-old crisis would soon be brought to an end via a political solution that would stop the violence and enable the reforms called for by the Syrian people to be enactment.
Since the uprising against President Bashar Assad began in mid-March of 2011, the estimated 550 kilometer-long border with Lebanon has witnessed several violations and shelling by the Syrian Army that have at times left innocent civilians dead or injured.
Earlier Satruday, 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.
As for his meeting with Prime Minister Najib Mikati, which Eliadis described as excellent, he said that he voiced his country's aim to develop and strengthen ties between the two countries.
Eliadis added that the relationship between Lebanon and Cyprus are working on developing and strengthening the already firm bond between their countries.
Eliadis’ talks with Sleiman and Ghosn, as well as those he held with Parliamentary 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.