US Congress Ends Arms Embargo on Cyprus, Angers Turkey

Israel

Photo Credit: Noam Revkin Fenton / Flash 90

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds a press conference with US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo (left), President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades (second from left), and former Prime Minister of Greece Alexis Tsipras at the David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem, on March 20, 2019.

The US Congress voted Tuesday to lift an arms embargo on Cyprus, angering Turkey.

The move comes as part of a massive defense bill that US President Donald Trump is likely to sign, AFP reported.

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The embargo on Cyprus dates back to 1987. It was meant to prevent an arms race between the island’s Greek majority and Turkish minority supported by the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974.

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) led the effort to end the embargo, with Menendez saying, “With Cyprus seeking to deepen its strategic partnership with the United States, it is in our national security and economic interest to lift these outdated decades-long arms restrictions that are no longer helping US security objectives.”

Tensions in the Mediterranean have grown after Turkey concluded a maritime agreement with Libya, according to which it claims that portions of discovered gas reserves in waters claimed by Greece and Cyprus.

The bill would maintain restrictions on some weaponry and technologies unless Cyprus certifies that Russia is not allowed to dock its military vessels for servicing, noted the report.

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