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Israel, Cyprus and Greece hold second tripartite summit, agree regional rescue force

The heads of government of Israel, Cyprus and Greece met in Jerusalem yesterday, in the second such tripartite summit, and agreed measures to increase cooperation between their countries.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hosted Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, meeting in a forum and individually.

A statement from Netanyahu’s office said that the summit “reflects the close and tightening relations between the countries” and that “relations between the three countries are strategically important for strengthening stability and establishing a regular framework for countries with common interests”.

Netanyahu praised the “genuine friendship and sympathy of our three peoples to each other” while Tsipras called cooperation with Israel “a strategic choice” and a “lever of growth”. Anastasiades pledged that Cyprus will “undertake efforts to further the bilateral ties between Israel and the EU that will reflect the overriding importance of such a relationship”.

At the summit, the three leaders agreed to establish a new regional rescue and emergency services force. Cyprus and Greece were two of the first countries to provide aid when Israel was hit by widespread fires last month.

Netanyahu said that the new force “would greatly help security and assuring the lives of the citizens of all countries here in the region” and that in the future, “we would like to add other countries to the joint command centre for emergencies such as fires, earthquakes, floods and others”.

During yesterday’s summit, a trilateral research and development agreement was signed in order to advance joint projects. In addition, Israel’s Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz met with his Greek counterpart, Giorgos Stathakis to discuss the possibility of a gas pipeline from the Israeli and Cyprus offshore gas fields through Greece to other parts of Europe. They also discussed electricity network interconnection between the three countries.

The first ever tripartite summit between the three countries was held in Nicosia in January and a third is set to be held in Salonika with the date yet to be confirmed.