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Greek, Jewish Communities in US Seek to Block F-35 Sales to Turkey - Leader

© AP Photo / Rick BowmerIn this Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015, file photo, an F-35 jet arrives at its new operational base at Hill Air Force Base, in northern Utah.
In this Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015, file photo, an F-35 jet arrives at its new operational base at Hill Air Force Base, in northern Utah. - Sputnik International
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The Greek-American and American Jewish communities in the United States seek to promote legislation to strengthen Cyprus as a Western security base and block F-35 jet sales to Turkey, the executive director of the Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC), Endy Zemenides, said on Monday.

"This legislation would remove the obstacles that keep Cyprus from becoming further established as a frontline state for Western security interests and prevent Turkey from holding the bilateral US-Cyprus relationship hostage to its intransigence on the Cyprus problem," Zemenides said in his interview to the Greek Kathimerini newspaper.

Additionally, the two communities will continue the campaign for restricting the F-35 jet sales to Turkey "until Turkey starts behaving responsibly," Zemenides said.

The move comes in line with the initiative "The End the Cyprus Arms Embargo Act", introduced on April 13 by several congressmen of the US House of Representatives and aiming to lift the ban on providing weapons to Cyprus. The legislators explained the bill by the fact that the country is a vital strategic partner of the United States and a member of the coalition to counter Daesh*.

READ MORE: Turkey Vows Response if US Halts Sales of F-35 Fighters to Ankara

Amid the escalated tensions between Turkey and both Cyprus and US (with the latter the standoff is connected with Washington's support for Kurdish militants in Syria), US House of Representatives released an annual defense policy bill stipulating a measure to temporarily halt weapons sales to Turkey last Friday.

READ MORE: Greek Border Guards Fire Warning Shots at Turkish Helicopter — Source

Cyprus has been partitioned since 1974, when Turkey’s military entered the island's northern part to protect Turks from attacks. That portion of the island later proclaimed itself the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). Turkey maintains a military presence there and recognizes the TRNC as an independent state.

READ MORE: Greek Government Approves F-16 Modernization Deal With US — Press Service

The US arms embargo, prohibiting the export of arms to "any of the armed forces in Cyprus," has been in effect since December 1992.

*Daesh — a terror group, banned in Russia

© Lockheed MartinF-35 in 'Beast Mode'
F-35 in 'Beast Mode' - Sputnik International
F-35 in 'Beast Mode'
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