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US Defence Secretary to meet defence minister before month’s end

US Defence Secretary James Mattis

US Secretary of Defence James Mattis will meet Defence Minister Savvas Angelides before the end of the month, according to Greek American weekly newspaper Greek News, which quoted Republican Congressman Dan Donovan, last Friday.

Donovan was addressing a group of Greek American supporters in Astoria. He is a very close ally of President Donald Trump, representing New York’s 11th Congressional District and is running for re-election in November.

Replying to a Greek News question, Donovan, who is a member of the House Foreign Affairs and Homeland Securities Committees, said that “General Mattis is going to meet with the Minister of Defence of Cyprus this month,” adding that “we have an embargo on Cyprus and now I suspect the Trump Administration is going to review that.”

The meeting, which is most likely to take place during a stop of General Mattis in Cyprus, has not been confirmed by the government. A Cyprus government official told the Greek News that they did not have such information, although a meeting is expected take place on Monday between Minister of Defence Savvas Angelides and US Ambassador in Nicosia Kathleen Doherty. If a meeting between Angelides and Mattis occurs, it will be the first such meeting between a US defence secretary and a Cypriot defence minister.

On August 20, Chief of Staff for the US Army General Mark A Milley met National Guard Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Ilias Leontaris and US Ambassador Kathleen Doherty in Larnaca in the presence of British High Commissioner Stephen Lillie. General Leontaris has been invited by the US Army Chief to visit the United States later this month to participate in a conference.

The Cypriot government is asking for a meeting with the Chief of the US Pentagon to reflect on the elevated status of their defence relationship. Diplomatic sources told the Greek News that when Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides visits Washington to meet Secretary of State Mike Pompeo – most likely in late October or early November – there is a possibility to meet Secretary Mattis as well.

Speaking to the Greek News, Donovan said President Trump “is well aware of Cyprus’ generosity letting us use their airbase during our fight against terrorism, while the Turks are prohibiting us doing so”.

Donovan told the Greek News that the supporters of Greece and Cyprus are going to be very pleased with the results of the Trump Administration.

“We review foreign policy throughout the world, but particularly in the Mediterranean, where we need such vital assets to fight terrorism. Cyprus has already shown us the willingness to help us by allowing us to use its airfields,” he said.

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