Eastern Mediterranean

US partially lifts decades-old arms embargo on Cyprus

Al Jazeera – The United States has said it will lift for one year its decades-old arms embargo on Cyprus to allow “non-lethal” military goods to be sold to the Mediterranean island.

In a move which was immediately slammed by Turkey, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo informed Republic of Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades of the change in a phone call on Tuesday.

From October 1, the US will remove blocks for one year on the sale or transfer of “non-lethal defence articles and defence services”, the State Department said.

Pompeo also “reaffirmed US support for a comprehensive settlement to reunify the island”, according to State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus.

For his part, Anastasiades welcomed the lifting of the embargo, which the US imposed in 1987 in the hope that it could encourage the reunification of the island.  He said the “positive” development “reinforce[d] the bilateral security relationship” between the two countries.

The US decision, however, drew immediate condemnation from Ankara.

“It poisons the peace and stability environment in the region,” the Turkish foreign ministry said, adding it does “not comply with the spirit of alliance” between the US and Turkey.

If Washington did not reverse course, the ministry said, “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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