Eastern Mediterranean countries including Egypt and Israel agreed on Monday to boost energy ties through the creation of a body to strengthen the gas market. The decision came during a meeting bringing together seven energy ministers including those from Cyprus, Greece, Jordan, Italy and the Palestinian territories. The "East Mediterranean Gas Forum" is to be based in Cairo, Egypt's energy ministry said, as it seeks to become a regional energy hub.
The forum will help in "the creation of a regional gas market that benefits the members through security of supply and demand," said a post-meeting statement from the ministry. It also aims to "ensure competitive pricing, and promote improved commercial relationships". A further meeting in April is due to determine the body's structure, with plans in the pipeline for other countries or international organisations to join as "observers".
On Sunday, Israel's Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz arrived in Cairo to attend the meeting in a rare visit to Egypt by an Israeli official. Encouraged by the discovery of massive natural gas fields in the Mediterranean, Cairo has recently signed gas deals with neighbouring Israel as well as Cyprus and Greece.
(With inputs from agencies.)