11:49 GMT27 September 2020
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The US government is lifting restrictions related to the export and import of non-lethal defence articles to and from Cyprus, State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said.

    "Secretary [Mike] Pompeo informed President [Nicos] Anastasiades of his decision to waive restrictions temporarily for FY [fiscal year] 2021 on the export, re-export, retransfer, and temporary import of non-lethal defence articles and defence services controlled under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation destined for or originating in Cyprus", Ortagus said in a statement on Tuesday.

    Earlier in the day, Pompeo praised Cyprus as a key US partner in the Eastern Mediterranean and announced that both nations are deepening their security cooperation.

    The United States banned arms sales to Cyprus in 1987 to deescalate tensions and encourage a diplomatic solution to the conflict on the island. Cyprus has been de facto divided into the Republic of Cyprus and the non-recognized Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus since the 1970s when Turkey sent troops to the island in response to an attempted coup by the Greek military and subsequently controls nearly 40 percent of the island’s territory.

    Last December, the US Congress voted to lift the 1987 arms embargo amid growing tensions sparked by Turkey’s exploration drilling in the Greek-claimed waters in early August. Greece considers this territory to be its exclusive economic zone and has mobilized its armed forces to high alert, vowing to protect its sovereign rights by all means necessary.

    Tags:
    East Mediterranean, Cyprus, United States
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