Cypriot president to visit Egypt

Cyprus and Egypt will sign an agreement for the extraction and production of Cypriot natural gas during a visit to Cairo this week by President Tassos Papadopoulos, officials said Wednesday.

Papadopoulos will travel to Egypt Wednesday for a three-day official visit, the first by a Cypriot head of state since 1966.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said in an interview published Wednesday that Egypt and Cyprus will sign an agreement during the visit for the extraction and production of natural gas, thought to be located off the coast of the island.

Last year, Egypt and Cyprus signed a provisional deal to share technical know-how and expertise in areas where the two countries have mutual interests.

"We have come a long way since the memorandum of understanding," Mubarak said in an interview with Cyprus' Phileleftheros daily. "During the visit, President Papadopoulos will oversee the signing of an agreement relating to the extraction and production of natural gas inside Cypriot territorial waters. This will open new ways for a profitable cooperation between the two countries in this vital area."

Although the size of Cyprus' oil and gas reserves are not known, former Trade and Industry Minister Nicos Rolandis has claimed in the past that an estimated 6 billion to 8 billion barrels of oil could be lying in the sea surrounding Cyprus, reports the AP.

I.L.