U.S. Vice President Joe Biden says the divided island of Cyprus is uniquely positioned to become a "global hub" for production of natural gas.
The vice president was on Cyprus Thursday on the first visit by such a high-ranking U.S. official in a half-century. He said since the discovery of natural gas reserves off the Cypriot coast, Cyprus is poised to become what he called "a key player" in the Mediterranean region.
Biden said the United States is prepared to provide assistance in helping Cyprus resolve its political issues. He said it is possible for Cyprus, which has been divided between ethnic Greeks and ethnic Turks since 1974, to reach a settlement that "reunites" it as a "bizonal, bicommunal federation." But he did not promise any change in U.S. policy on the issue.
The international community, including the United States, recognizes the Greek Cypriot government as the legitimate government of Cyprus, while only Turkey recognizes the Turkish Cypriot government. In a 2004 referendum, Greek Cypriots rejected a plan to unify the island's two sectors.