Egypt says gas discoveries can be EU's new energy source

Menelaos Hadjicostis, Associated Press

Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, left, and Cyprus' President Nicos Anastasiades talk to the media during a press conference and a meeting at the presidential palace in the Cypriot capital Nicosia, Monday, Nov. 20, 2017. El-Sissi's visit aims to forge closer ties with Egypt's neighbor and comes a day ahead of the three-way meeting that will include the Greek prime minister. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) -- Newly discovered gas deposits in the eastern Mediterranean can offer Europe the alternative sources of energy that it's searching for, Egypt's president said Monday.

President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said that Europe can take advantage of the proximity of both Egypt and Cyprus to the continent in that energy search.

"These gas discoveries can contribute to the European continent's search for alternative energy sources, taking advantage of the position of Egypt and Cyprus," El-Sissi said after talks with his Cypriot counterpart.

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades said his country will promote closer relations between Egypt and the European Union, calling Egypt an "absolutely necessary strategic partner" for the 28-member bloc on issues like energy, migration and combatting extremism.

"Our vision is that the discovery of hydrocarbon deposits in the wider region becomes a catalyst for wider cooperation in the eastern Mediterranean, contributing to regional peace, stability and prosperity," Anastasiades said.

The Egyptian president also said he and Anastasiades agreed on ways of countering the threat of extremism in the region, noting a 2015 military cooperation agreement between the two countries.

Egypt and Cyprus have in the last three years aimed at forging closer ties as part of a relationship built largely on energy cooperation.

Egyptian and Cypriot officials are set to begin talks next month on a potential pipeline that could bring gas from a Cypriot offshore field to Egypt for possible domestic use or export.

Two years ago, Italian energy company Eni discovered in Egyptian waters the biggest gas field ever found in the Mediterranean. Eni, along with France's Total and ExxonMobil are also searching for more hydrocarbons in adjacent Cypriot waters.

The Egyptian president's visit to Cyprus comes a day ahead of a three-way meeting that will include Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

El-Sissi said Tuesday's talks will also aim to boost energy cooperation between the three countries.

Cyprus, Greece and Israel have also held a number of three-way talks aimed at enhancing energy and security ties.