U.S. Vice President Joe Biden says Washington is willing to help the ethnically divided island of Cyprus unify, while also praising the country's energy possibilities.
Biden said after talks in Nicosia with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiadis that the United States would offer whatever is necessary to "achieve the goal of reunification."
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded the northern part of the island after a Greek-inspired coup.
Biden is also due to meet Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu in Northern Cyprus, where there are some 35,000 Turkish troops.
The Turkish Cypriot state, set up in the north following the 1974 invasion, is recognized only by Turkey.
Biden said he believes it is possible for the Greek and Turkish sides in Cyprus to find a settlement and for the island to reunite "as a bizonal bicommunal federation."
Biden's visit is part of a U.S. campaign to reassure regional leaders as the West confronts Russia over its activities in Ukraine.
He also stressed the need to enforce European Union sanctions against Russia over its annexation of Crimea and its role in the Ukrainian crisis.
The notion is a particularly sensitive one in Cyprus, as Russian companies and wealthy Russians have invested billions in the country, particularly in its banking sector.
And Biden is encouraging energy deals that lessen European dependence on Russian natural gas -- saying that "we need to ensure Russia can no longer continue to use its resources as a weapon against anyone in the region."
He lauded Cyprus's energy potential, saying the country is "poised to become a key player in the eastern Mediterranean."
Observers say Cyprus's newly discovered energy deposits could be used to supply gas to Europe instead of imports from Russia.
Biden said the gas deposits could be "an alternative energy corridor leading to increased energy security."
With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP