Cyprus, Greece, Egypt Vow Closer Security Cooperation in Mediterranean

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Italian coast guard personnel taking part in a rescue operation of a boat with migrants in the Mediterranean Sea. Photo: AFP

Cyprus, Greece and Egypt on Thursday pledged closer cooperation on combatting terrorism and people trafficking, as they look to ratchet up maritime security in the Eastern Mediterranean, their defence ministers said.

“Threats of terrorism and extremism have increased and turned into a global phenomenon that no country can avoid, especially considering the return of terrorists to their homelands after their defeat in Syria and Iraq,” Egyptian Defense Minister Sedki Sobhi said after a meeting in the coastal town of Larnaca.

“Current conditions constitute strategic challenges and threats…and multiply our national and historical responsibilities as friendly and neighbouring countries in the Eastern Mediterranean to work together,” he said.

The meeting agreed that exchanging information was “exceptionally important” as the countries seek to combat terrorism in the region, said Cypriot Defense Minister Christoforos Fokaides.

Also of concern was protecting offshore oil and gas exploration and making sure key shipping lanes like the Suez Canal are safe.

It was agreed that defence ministers of the three countries will meet on an annual basis.