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Saudi foreign minister determined to bolster Cyprus ties

Cyprus' president Nicos Anastasiades, right, and Saudi Foreign Minister Ibrahim Bin Abdulaziz Al-Assaf talk during their meeting at the presidential palace in capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Wednesday Sept. 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

NICOSIA, Cyprus — Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister says his country is keen to explore ways of strengthening relations with Cyprus given the European Union member country’s geographic location and long-standing ties with the Arab world.

Ibrahim al-Assaf’s visit to the east Mediterranean island nation on Wednesday where he also met with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades was the first by a top Saudi official.

Al-Assaf said there’s “high interest” in developing relations “on all fronts.”

Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides said the two men agreed to focus initially on tourism and investment.

Christodoulides noted a shared understanding to jointly address challenges like terrorism, the rise of extremism and climate change.

The Cypriot foreign minister said EU-Saudi co-operation is key to dealing with regional challenges and that Cyprus would continue advocating that in Brussels.

The Associated Press