August 7, 2019 / 1:12 PM / 18 days ago

Greece, Israel, U.S., Cyprus to boost energy cooperation

Cypriot Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis, Greek Energy Greek Energy Minister Kostis Hatzidakis and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources Francis Fannon pose for a picture during an energy ministerial summit between Greece, Cyprus, Israel and the U.S. in Athens, Greece, August 7, 2019. REUTERS/Costas Baltas

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece, Israel, Cyprus and the United States agreed to enhance cooperation in energy, cyber and infrastructure security, Greek Energy Minister Kostis Hatzidakis said on Wednesday after ministers of the four countries met in Athens.

Natural gas discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean in the past decade have rendered the region a viable alternative energy source for Europe, but also exposed long-simmering disputes between neighbours jostling for rights over resources.

Regional tripartite meetings between Israel and Cyprus, which have made discoveries, and Greece, keen to be a hub, have recently been extended to include the United States.

“Energy can be a bridge for broader political stability,” U.S. Assistant Energy Secretary Frank Fannon told reporters.

Cypriot Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis said he had received assurances from his Israeli, Greek and U.S. counterparts of full support over his country’s right to search for natural resources.

Turkey, which has no diplomatic relations with Cyprus, disputes the EU-member state’s right to explore for natural gas, staking a claim over offshore areas Cyprus claims as its own.

Ankara has dispatched two drill ships east and west of the island., a move Cyprus says is a violation of international law.

Reporting by Lefteris Papadimas and Michele Kambas; editing by David Evans

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