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Defence minister urges US to overturn arms embargo

Defence Minister Savva Angelidis (centre) with US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence Thomas Goffus

The US arms embargo on Cyprus was among the issues discussed on Wednesday by Defence Minister Savvas Angelides and US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for European and Nato policy, Thomas Goffus.

During their meeting, Angelides raised the issue of lifting the embargo on the sale of US military materiel to Cyprus, stressing its importance on the development of bilateral relations.

Goffus, according to the defence ministry, pledged to convey Angelides’ arguments on the matter to Washington.

The US decision to deny export of arms to “any of the armed forces in Cyprus” except the United Nations, has been in place since December 1992.

Despite the ban, the bulk of heavy weapons maintained by the Turkish occupying forces in the north are American made.

Following the 1974 invasion, the Republic could not procure arms from the US or Europe.

Its first acquisitions were from Brazil – armoured recon and armoured fighting vehicles.

In the late 1980s France agreed to sell the Republic its first serious hardware in the form of modern battle tanks, anti-tank helicopters, anti-tank missiles, and self-propelled artillery.

In 2003, the US made a huge fuss over two helicopters and four self-propelled guns – all more or less obsolete – given to Cyprus by Greece. The equipment was eventually withdrawn.

Angelides and Goffus also exchanged views on the island’s regional role and the partnerships it is developing with US allies in the area and how it can help strengthen bilateral relations and combat terrorism.

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