Interview: Cypriot defense minister says island aims to become regional search-and-rescue hub

Cyprus' defense minister says the country is setting up a satellite earth station that will anchor a search-and-rescue control center covering Europe's southeastern edge.

Christoforos Fokaides told The Associated Press in an interview Monday that the earth station will be Europe's third such facility, complementing ones in Norway and Spain that improve authorities' response to regional emergencies.

He said Cypriot authorities will relay received distress signals to search-and-rescue crews in the countries closest to any emergency.

Fokaides said Cyprus is perfectly positioned geographically to act as a search-and-rescue hub.

He said Cyprus has signed agreements with Israel, Syria and Greece and is in the process of concluding such agreements with neighboring Lebanon and Egypt.