Egyptian Electricity and Energy Minister Ali Fahmy al-Saidi will visit Cyprus in late July to discuss the tapping of lucrative oil and gas reserves off the eastern Mediterranean island, officials said here Tuesday, June 27.
The announcement was made after Cyprus and Egypt signed a trade protocol in Nicosia to improve bilateral commercial links and help further develop ties in tourism, the service sector and investment.
"We discussed matters of mutual interest ... but the issue of oil exploration was touched on in general terms," said Cypriot Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis.
"We hope to begin more substantive talks on this important issue when our friend the petroleum minister visits next month," he added.
Rolandis raised the possiblity of joint oil exploration during a visit to Cairo last December.
Saidi is expected to visit Cyprus some time after July 20.
Egypt's ambassador to Cyprus, Omar Metwally, said next month's visit will signal "greater cooperation and discussion on future prospects in this field."
According to local media, the government has evidence of large oil and gas deposits located between Israel, Syria, Egypt and Cyprus.
Reportedly, the prospect of huge oil reserves has prompted the government to seek delineation of its continental shelf to ward off neigbouring countries encroaching on lucrative resources.
Egyptian Economy and Foreign Trade Undersecretary El Said Fuad Kasem heads the large business delegation on a four-day tour here to bolster trade relations.
He said there was room to expand trade between the two countries, which is currently worth some $70 million annually. — (AFP)
© Agence France Presse
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)