US to carry out mil­i­tary train­ing with Cyprus

The National - News - - NEWS -

The US said it planned to con­duct mil­i­tary train­ing with Cyprus for the first time, de­fy­ing fel­low Nato mem­ber Turkey, which said the move threat­ened sta­bil­ity on the is­land.

Last year, the US Congress ended a decades-long arms em­bargo on Cyprus, the north­ern third of which is oc­cu­pied by Turkey.

On Wed­nes­day, US Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo said the State Depart­ment would fund mil­i­tary train­ing for Cyprus as part of “our expanding se­cu­rity re­la­tion­ship” with the coun­try.

“This is part of our ef­forts to en­hance re­la­tion­ships with key re­gional part­ners to pro­mote sta­bil­ity in the eastern Mediter­ranean,” Mr Pom­peo said.

It will be part of the US In­ter­na­tional Mil­i­tary Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing pro­gramme, which seeks to in­crease co-op­er­a­tion be­tween the US and for­eign forces.

Ankara wanted the arms em­bargo to re­main in place, say­ing that end­ing it would up­set a bal­ance of power on the is­land.

It also op­poses the US train­ing plan.

“As we re­peat­edly stressed in the past, these kind of steps do not con­trib­ute to ef­forts of find­ing a so­lu­tion to the Cyprus prob­lem, but fur­ther strengthen the Greek Cypriot side’s un­com­pro­mis­ing at­ti­tude,” the Turk­ish For­eign Min­istry said.

“It is clear that steps that do not ob­serve the bal­ance be­tween the two sides will not help in restor­ing an en­vi­ron­ment of trust on the is­land, as well as restor­ing peace and sta­bil­ity in the eastern Mediter­ranean.”

The US im­posed the em­bargo in 1987 to avoid an arms race and en­cour­age a peace­ful res­o­lu­tion on the is­land, the pop­u­la­tion of which is mainly Greek.

Crit­ics say the em­bargo back­fired by forc­ing Cyprus, which is now an EU mem­ber, to seek other part­ners.

Last year, Turkey an­gered the US by buy­ing an ad­vanced mis­sile-de­fence sys­tem from Rus­sia.

Turkey in­vaded Cyprus in 1974 af­ter a coup en­gi­neered by the mil­i­tary regime in Athens at the time, which sought to unite the is­land with Greece.

Cyprus re­mained largely peace­ful, with Greek Cypriot and Turk­ish Cypriot lead­ers work­ing to build ties.

But ten­sions flared re­cently over Turk­ish plans to drill for gas off the is­land, a move the EU said was il­le­gal.

The US wants to strengthen se­cu­rity ties with Cyprus

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