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Akinci says lifting US arms embargo would affect peace efforts  

Lifting the US arms embargo on Cyprus would negatively affect peace efforts on the island Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci said, according to reports on Friday.

Akinci had a meeting on Friday morning with the Deputy Assistant Secretary at the US State Department Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, Matthew Palmer who was on the island for contacts.

Media in the north reported that Akinci’s spokesman Baris Burcu said in a written statement that Akinci explained to Palmer why the arms embargo should not be lifted.

A possible lifting of the arms embargo would negatively affect the peace efforts in Cyprus, Akinci said according to Burcu.

He also conveyed to the US official the views of the Turkish Cypriot side on the issue of natural gas.

Akinci told Palmer that the Greek Cypriot side is constantly rejecting the Turkish Cypriot proposal to create a joint gas committee while carrying on its unilateral actions on hydrocarbon exploration. This left the Turkish Cypriot side with no other choice but to take similar actions, he said, according to the statement.

According to Burcu, the Turkish Cypriot leader explained in detail to Palmer the reasons for the current impasse in the Cyprus issue. Akinci argued that the reason the efforts by the UN Secretary-General’s special envoy Jane Holl Lute on preparing the terms of reference for the resumption of talks have not borne fruit yet was because the Greek Cypriot side had backed away from past agreements on political equality.

In 1987, the US placed restrictions on the transfer of arms and defensive material to Cyprus in an attempt to encourage reunification efforts and avoid an arms race on the island. The government has been trying for many years to see the embargo lifted.

Palmer was on the island to discuss bilateral relations with President Nicos Anastasiades, among them, a bill tabled by US Senators Bob Menendez and Marco Rubio providing among other things lifting the US arms embargo on Cyprus.

Government Spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said after the meeting Anastasiades and Palmer discussed the progress in efforts to lift the US arms embargo and the new relation between the US and Cyprus this would bring.

Anastasiades, during a reception at the US Embassy in Nicosia on the occasion of the US Independence Day also on Thursday, argued that considering the strategic depth of the partnership between the two nations, there was room for further advancing it in areas such as updating the 1984 Agreement for the Avoidance of Double Taxation; Cyprus joining the Visa Waiver Programme; and revoking the US embargo on the sale of military and defence related equipment to Cyprus.

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