NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — A U.S. senator says the time is right for Cyprus to strengthen its bonds with Washington in light of new natural gas discoveries in waters off the east Mediterranean island nation and its partnerships with neighboring countries to bolster regional security.

Sen. Robert Menendez D-N.J. said after talks with Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades Tuesday that Cyprus can “find a whole new day” in its relationship with the U.S. and the West.

Cypriot government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said ties are enhancing, referring to proposed legislation Menendez introduced with Sen. Marco Rubio R-Fl. aimed at lifting a 32-year-old arms embargo on Cyprus.

Prodromou said Cyprus works with countries including Israel and Egypt, serving U.S. interests as ExxonMobil is engaged in a hydrocarbons search of the island.