‘What do you want me to tell Ankara?’ Biden asks Greek Cypriot leader before visit

‘What do you want me to tell Ankara?’ Biden asks Greek Cypriot leader before visit

Yorgo Kırbaki NICOSIA
‘What do you want me to tell Ankara’ Biden asks Greek Cypriot leader before visit

US Vice President Joe Biden is set to arrive in Ankara on Nov. 21 for a three-day visit to Turkey. REUTERS Photo

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has reportedly called Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades to ask if he wants him to convey any messages to Ankara ahead of his visit three-day visit to Turkey.

Biden telephoned Anastasiades to ask him, “What do you want me to tell Ankara?” amid strained ties between the Turkish and Greek Cypriot sides over rights on the energy resources of the divided island.

According to sources close to the Greek Cypriot government, Anastasiades told Biden, “I want to solve the Cyprus issue as soon as possible. Convey this.”

Biden, who is set to hold a three-day visit to Turkey between Nov. 21 and 23, reportedly told the Greek Cyprus leader that he will call again to inform him about his talks with Turkish authorities.

Biden’s Ankara visit comes ahead of a visit from Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu to Athens, scheduled for Dec. 5 and 6.

Last month, Greek Cyprus suspended its participation in the U.N.-led peace talks with Turkey amid tensions over Ankara’s determination to search for oil and gas in the same region where the Greek Cypriot government has licensed exploratory drills in an exclusive economic zone.

Ankara opposes the Cypriot government’s exploitation of offshore energy reserves before a deal is reached to solve the decades-long division of the east Mediterranean island and argues the resources belong to both governments on the island.

Along this line, a Turkish survey vessel has been encroached on Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone off the island’s southern coast since Oct. 20.

Ankara had also issued a notice that a Turkish seismic vessel would carry out a survey until Dec. 30 in the same area where the Italian-Korean energy consortium ENI-Kogas is operating.

Biden had earlier called Anastasiades on Nov. 1, to express his concerns over the tension between the two parties.

Biden stressed that the U.S. respects Greek Cyprus’ sovereignty and the right to develop resources in an exclusive economic zone, expressing hope that diplomatic efforts will help reduce tensions with Turkey.