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U.S. to partially lift arms embargo on Cyprus

Christian Fernsby |
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday informed Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades that Washington would allow non-lethal arms trade for Nicosia for fiscal year 2021 starting Oct. 1, a move that drew opposition from Turkey.

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Topics: U.S.    CYPRUS   

"Secretary Pompeo informed President Anastasiades of his decision to waive restrictions temporarily for FY 2021 on the export, re-export, retransfer, and temporary import of non-lethal defense articles and defense services controlled under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation destined for or originating in Cyprus," U.S. State Department said in a statement.

Pompeo said on Twitter that "Cyprus is a key partner in the Eastern Mediterranean", adding that Washington and Nicosia are deepening security cooperation.

The United States in 1987 imposed an arms embargo on the island, which has been divided along ethnic lines since 1974 when Turkey intervened militarily following a coup by Athens-backed Greek Cypriots.

The latest U.S. decision came amid escalating tensions in recent weeks between NATO allies Turkey and Greece over natural gas explorations in the Eastern Mediterranean.

In response, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said Tuesday in a statement that the U.S. decision "poisons the peace and stability environment in the region, does not comply with the spirit of alliance."

The statement also expected Washington to reconsider the decision. "Otherwise, Turkey, as a guarantor country, will take the necessary decisive counter steps to guarantee the security of the Turkish Cypriot people, in line with its legal and historical responsibilities."

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