‘Turkey’s provocative actions also on agenda’: Cyprus ahead of Jaishankar visit

NEW DELHI: India and Cyprus are set to sign an agreement on defence and military cooperation during external affairs minister S Jaishankar’s three-day visit to the island country from Thursday, the first by an Indian foreign minister in 15 years.

The two countries will also sign a declaration of intent for negotiations on an agreement on migration and mobility and Cyprus will formally join the India-led International Solar Alliance, according to a statement from the Cypriot foreign ministry.

Cyprus will be the first stop in Jaishankar’s six-day tour that will also take him to Austria. Both visits are aimed at reviewing bilateral ties and taking forward cooperation in diverse areas.

Jaishankar will travel to Cyprus during December 29-31 and hold talks with his Cypriot counterpart Ioannis Kasoulides. He will also meet Annita Demetriou, the president of the House of Representatives, the external affairs ministry said on Wednesday.

The foreign ministry of Cyprus said Jaishankar and Kasoulides will sign a memorandum of understanding on defence and military cooperation and the document for the inclusion of Cyprus in the International Solar Alliance.

Jaishankar and Cyprus’ interior minister Nikos Nouris will sign a declaration of intent to start negotiations with the aim of reaching an agreement on immigration and mobility.

The focus of discussions between Jaishankar and Kasoulides will be bilateral relations and the prospect of deepening two-way cooperation in a wide range of areas, economic cooperation between the two countries, EU-India relations, and regional and international issues, the foreign ministry of Cyprus said.

It further signalled, without giving details, that the Cypriot side intended to discuss “Turkey’s provocative actions against Cyprus” and the “prospect of India’s participation in a regional mechanism with countries of the region”.

Both Greece and Cyprus, which have strained relations with Turkey, perceive relations with India as a balancing factor. Drilling by Turkish ships for natural gas in waters claimed by Cyprus and Greece has been a source of tensions since 2018. Cyprus has sought to rope in India for a joint effort, also involving Greece, Israel, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, aimed at energy exploration.

Jaishankar will also address the business and investment community of Cyprus along with Kasoulides at a business forum in Limassol on December 30, and interact with the Indian diaspora.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between India and Cyprus. The late Pranab Mukherjee was the last Indian foreign minister to visit the island in May 2007.

In Austria, Jaishankar will meet his counterpart Alexander Schallenberg. This will be the first visit by an Indian foreign minister to Austria in 27 years, and it will take place ahead of the celebration of 75 years of diplomatic relations in 2023.

Schallenberg visited India in March this year, and the two ministers have met thrice this year on the margins of international gatherings in Munich, Bratislava and New York.

Jaishankar will also meet Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer and interact with the Indian diaspora in Austria. Separately, Jaishankar will meet Rafael Mariano Grossi, director general of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

While in Austria, Jaishankar will also meet Czech foreign minister Jan Lipavský and Slovak foreign minister Rastislav Káčer along with Schallenberg in the “Slavkov format”. The discussions at this meeting are expected to focus on regional and global issues, the external affairs ministry said.

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