ATHENS, Greece (AP) — The leaders of Cyprus, Greece and Israel plan to sign an agreement early in the new year for the building of the Eastern Mediterranean natural gas pipeline, the Greek prime minister’s office announced Sunday.

The agreement will be signed in Athens on Jan. 2 by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Cypriot President Nikos Anastasiades and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

As now planned, the pipeline will run across the Mediterranean, from Israel’s Levantine Basin offshore gas reserves, to the Greek island of Crete and the Greek mainland, and to Italy.

The deal will be finalized with Italy’s signature at a subsequent date, Mitsotakis’ office said. In May 2019, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte had expressed opposition to the Poseidon project, the last section of the EastMed pipeline connecting Greece with Italy.

Cyprus, Greece and Israel already signed an agreement on the 1,900- kilometer (1,180-mile) pipeline earlier this year in the presence of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The EastMed pipeline is expected to satisfy about 10% percent of the European Union's natural gas needs decreasing energy dependence on Russia.

The EU has contributed to the cost of technical studies for the project.