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

Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, left, and Cyprus' President Nicos Anastasiades shake hands after a press conference and their 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)
Bodyguards, left and rear right by the Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, center left, and Cyprus' President Nicos Anastasiades, center right, walk to the steps of the Presidential Palace after reviewing a guard of honor following the Egyptian president's arrival to the Cypriot capital Nicosia for an official visit on 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)
Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, adjusts his sunglasses as walks to the steps of the Presidential Palace after reviewing a guard of honor with Cyprus' President Nicos Anastasiades, at the Cypriot capital Nicosia on 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)
Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi adjusts his translator headphones as Cyprus' President Nicos Anastasiades talks to the media during a press conference 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)
Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, second from left, and Cyprus' President Nicos Anastasiades, right, walk to the steps of the Presidential Palace after reviewing a guard of honor following the Egyptian president's arrival to the Cypriot capital Nicosia for an official visit on 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 — 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.

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