US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to visit Cyprus on Saturday in an effort to seek a resolution to mounting tensions in the eastern Mediterranean.
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According to foreign media, the US diplomat said his trip to the island was part of a larger diplomatic effort following phone calls that President Donald Trump made to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
So I'll be working on that project as well, trying to make sure that I understand the risks that are associated from the people of Cyprus' perspective
Pompeo, who was on a plane to Qatar where long-awaited talks between Afghanistan's government and the Taliban were to be launched, told reporters he would then make a stopover in Cyprus on Saturday to help reduce tensions in the region.
The dispute "has to be resolved in a way that's diplomatic and peaceful," Pompeo told reporters on his plane.
Last week, the state secretary urged “everyone to stand down” in an effort to reduce tensions in the region, primarily between Turkey and Greece over maritime disputes.
But Turkey appeared frustrated over Pompeo’s decision last week to lift a small arms embargo against the Republic of Cyprus, with Ankara urging Washington to reconsider.
Pompeo acknowledged the decision was announced in the midst of heightened tensions but maintained it was the “right thing” to do and “long time coming.”
"So I'll be working on that project as well, trying to make sure that I understand the risks that are associated from the people of Cyprus' perspective," he said on the plane.
Earlier this year, Nicosia was expecting Pompeo for an opportunity to follow up on previous discussions on enhancing bilateral relations between the United States and the Republic of Cyprus.
But the January trip was canceled in the wake of protests outside the US Embassy in Iraq, with US officials saying Pompeo would visit the island “in the near future.”