Greece is working with Israel on AI technology to quickly detect wildfires
Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides (centre), Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis (right) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sit, during their meeting at the presidential palace, in Nicosia, Cyprus, Monday, September 4, 2023. (Photo: AP)

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Greece is working with Israel on developing artificial intelligence technology that would help in early detection of dangerous wildfires, the Greek prime minister said Monday.

After talks with his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu and Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides in the Cypriot capital of Nicosia, Kyriakos Mitsotakis also said that Israel could be brought into the European Union fold when it comes to civil protection initiatives to better coordinate firefighting efforts.

Israel and Cyprus are among several countries that have dispatched firefighting aircraft and crews to help battle wildfires in Greece that consumed vast tracts of forest last month and are believed to have killed 20 people.

Mitsotakis said Greece could act as a proving ground for Israeli AI technology in early detection of wildfires.

“We are already talking to Israel about AI-based solutions that will offer us early detection capabilities,” Said Mitsotakis.

Netanyahu said the three leaders discussed “going well beyond” dispatching firefighting aircraft and crews by deploying AI systems for early detection.

“This is really one of those areas where when we say we’ll do it better together, there’s no question that that’s the case,” Netanyahu said.

The three leaders said they delved into how to harness recent natural gas discoveries in Israeli and Cypriot waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Netanyahu said decisions on how Israel and Cyprus will export natural gas to foreign markets will have to be made within the next three to six months.

Israel and Cyprus are looking into plans for a pipeline that would convey offshore natural gas from both countries to the east Mediterranean island nation where it would be liquefied for export by ship.

“We agreed that natural gas and renewable energy is a prime pillar of cooperation in the region, especially in light of the recent geopolitical developments and energy insecurity, especially in Europe, dictating the need for energy diversification and increase interconnectivity,” Christodoulides said.

Another project the three leaders expressed keen interest on is an undersea electricity cable stretching 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles) that would link the power grids of Israel, Cyprus and mainland Greece.

"That’s something that we’re eagerly interested in pursuing and we discussed ... (including) the mechanism of how to advance this,” said Netanyahu.

Energy has been the focus of a series of ongoing meetings between the three leaders to deepen their countries' ties since 2016, which Mitsotakis said reflected their importance on the political, economic and other levels.

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