DEFENCE: Washington closer to lifting arms embargo on Cyprus

Cyprus is closer to having a 35-year US arms embargo lifted by Washington after a three-day visit by Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides.

During his visit to Washington Christodoulides discussed the arms embargo against Cyprus implemented by the US since 1987, security and energy matters and the Cyprus problem in meetings with Senator Bob Menendez and Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale.

Menendez, who serves as Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, expressed the view that “we are getting ever closer” to lifting the arms embargo.

He said that we are really enthused about the role Cyprus is continuously taking in exercising leadership in the region.

We are very optimistic about the exploration that is going on and the ability of Cyprus to play a major role in terms of energy and energy security, not just for the region, but potentially for Europe, he noted.

Menendez said, the Cypriot government has a lot of roles to play in regional cooperation and in Eastern Mediterranean strategy and we hope to memorialize some of that in legislation.

I have always had a view of lifting the arms embargo. I think we are getting ever closer and to the credit of the Cypriot government they have taken a series of actions that I think makes that move possible.

The Cypriot Foreign Minister said, on the part of the legislative power there is a clear intention in the immediate future to take specific actions, which will allow further enhancing relations between the United States and the Republic of Cyprus but also in general through the recognition of the role of the Republic in the Eastern Mediterranean.

A State Department press release said Under Secretary David Hale met with Christodoulides to discuss the recent progress in the U.S. � Republic of Cyprus security relationship.

They reaffirmed commitment to strengthen cooperation across a range of shared interests, including in combatting terrorism, countering malign influence, enhancing maritime and border security, and promoting peace, stability, security, and prosperity in the Eastern Mediterranean region.

Hale reaffirmed the longstanding US policy on resources in the Republic of Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone.

He also reaffirmed U.S. support for the Cypriot-led, UN-facilitated efforts to reunify the island as a bizonal, bicommunal federation, which would benefit all Cypriots.

Energy giant ExxonMobil and Nicosia announced in February the largest offshore Cyprus gas discovery of approximately 5 to 8 trillion cubic feet in block 10.

Source: The Financial Mirror