Saudi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf said during his visit to Cyprus that his country supports what he called "the legitimacy and sovereignty of Cyprus", referring to the dispute between Turkey and Greek Cyprus over the future of the divided island and gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean.
Speaking at a news conference with his Cypriot counterpart Nicos Christodoulides in Nicosia, Al-Assaf said his country would continue that support and expressed hope that the two sides would solve the problem in a peaceful way.
The Saudi minister also expressed his country's desire to improve relations with southern Cyprus (Greek part) because of its geographical location, years of long dialogue with the Arab world, as well as being a member of the European Union.
Christodoulides stressed the importance of the first official visit of a Saudi minister to Cyprus. He pointed to the importance of bilateral cooperation in the fields of politics, economy, energy, security and defense.
Visit and relationships
It is noteworthy that the visit is the first of a Saudi foreign minister since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two sides.
Last week, Saudi Ambassador Khaled bin Mohammed al-Sharif presented his credentials to the head of the South Cyprus Department, Nicos Anastasiades, as the country's first ambassador to South Cyprus.
On the other hand, Turkish media attacked the Saudi minister for his statements in support of the administration of South Cyprus in its dispute with Turkey.
Since 1974, the island of Cyprus has been divided between the two parts, Turkish in the north and Rumi (Greek) in the south.
Negotiations are centered around six main themes aimed at unifying the island: the economy, EU affairs, property, power-sharing (administration), land, security and guarantees.
The Turkish Cypriot side demands that the present guarantees remain in place even after a possible solution is reached on the island.