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Cyprus welcomes annual renewal of US arms sales to island (Updated)

foreign ministry

Cyprus on Friday welcomed the extension of the lifting of the US arms embargo for the 2024 fiscal year.

Following the decision of the US state department that will continue to allow the sale of US arms to the island for the coming year, the foreign ministry issued a statement expressing its satisfaction.

“The decision of the US Government demonstrates the continued upgrading of Cyprus-US bilateral relations in the field of security and defence.

“Our goal remains to deepen this strategic partnership conducted on the basis of international law and the need to build conditions of security and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean region,” the foreign ministry said.

Its statement came after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken determined and certified to Congress on Friday that the Republic of Cyprus has met the necessary conditions under applicable legislation to allow the Department to approve exports, re-exports, and transfers of defence articles to the Republic of Cyprus for fiscal year 2024.

“The International Traffic in Arms Regulations will be amended to reflect the new policy, effective October 1, 2023.  This determination does not represent a change; rather, it is re-certification of the FY 2023 determination,” the press statement of the US State Department said.

The decision is based on the Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act enacted by the US Congress in 2019.

Compliance with the conditions is assessed on an annual basis.

The US arms embargo, in force since 1987, was lifted in September 2022. Under the East Med Security and Energy Partnership Act arms sales are contingent on the US president certifying each year that Cyprus continues to meet all the conditions outlined in the act to warrant the renewal of the annual waiver.

The conditions relate to whether the Government of the Republic of Cyprus is continuing to cooperate with the United States Government in efforts to implement reforms on anti-money laundering regulations and financial regulatory oversight, and if it has made and is continuing to take the steps necessary to deny Russian military vessels access to ports for refuelling and servicing.

Earlier this year, US Senator Robert Menendez had introduced an amendment that was not adopted in the US National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) which would have extended the present one-year renewal period on arms sales to the Republic of Cyprus to every three years.

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