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US to partially lift arms embargo on Cyprus

US to partially lift arms embargo on Cyprus

The US has decided to partially lift an arms embargo on Cyprus and allow the trade of non-lethal for fiscal year 2021 starting from October 1, the State Department said.

"Secretary of State Mike Pompeo informed Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades of his decision to waive restrictions temporarily for FY 2021 on the export, re-export, re-transfer, and temporary import of non-lethal defence articles and services controlled under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation destined for or originating in Cyprus," Xinhua news agency quoted the Department as saying on Tuesday.

Later in the day, Pompeo tweeted that "Cyprus is a key partner in the Eastern Mediterranean", adding that Washington and Nicosia are deepening security cooperation.

In 1987, the US imposed the 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.

In response to the US move, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said that it "poisons the peace and stability environment in the region, does not comply with the spirit of alliance".

The Ministry said it 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."

The tensions over Turkish natural gas explorations off Greek islands in the Eastern Mediterranean have escalated in recent weeks, as Athens considers the explorations illegal.

The Ankara government on the other hand believes the waters, in which natural gas is being drilled on a trial basis, belong to the Turkish continental shelf.

Turkey has sent an exploratory vessel Oruc Reis, which is carrying out seismic research escorted by warships in the region..