NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — The leaders of Cyprus, Egypt and Greece agreed Wednesday to step up cooperation on combatting terrorism amid fears that worsening security conditions in neighboring countries such as Libya could threaten the region.
This would involve boosting defense and security ties and "discussing relevant information" to counter terrorist threats, said Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, his Egyptian counterpart, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
The three leaders made the pledge in a joint declaration during a summit in the Cypriot capital of Nicosia.
In the declaration, the leaders urged all countries to "effectively confront this menace" by boosting security cooperation to expose extremist groups' political and financial supporters.
The leaders expressed "grave concern" over a growing terrorist threat in Libya that may destabilize neighboring countries, adding that they support putting in place a counter-terrorism strategy that would run in tandem with the ongoing political process.
"We underscored the significance of our joint efforts to restore stability in Libya," said El-Sissi.
The Egyptian president said he's saddened that "horrible crimes" are being committed because of the victims' identity and faith and offered his country's condolences for the recent killings of dozens of Ethiopian Christians by Islamic extremists in Libya.
The leaders also expressed strong support for the legitimate government of Yemen where fighting continues between a Saudi-led coalition and Shiite rebels. They said the worsening situation in the impoverished Arab country threatens to destabilize the Gulf area, the Horn of Africa, the Red Sea and the wider Middle East.
The leaders also agreed to closer economic and trade ties in the energy, tourism and maritime sectors.
Egypt said it wants to buy quantities of Cyprus' offshore gas and Anastasiades repeated that the discovery of mineral deposits in the eastern Mediterranean can act as a catalyst for wider regional cooperation.