The Houthi movement “do not pose an immediate threat to Cyprus,” British Defence Minister Grant Shapps said on Friday.

Shapps was speaking to journalists outside Cyprus’ Presidential palace following a meeting with President Nikos Christodoulides and Cypriot Defence Minister Vasilis Palmas and moved to reassure those concerned after his country started bombing positions held by the Houthi movement in Yemen from Cyprus.

The Houthi movement, a Shia Islamist organisation allegedly backed by Iran which controls much of the west of Yemen, has been attacking ships passing through the Red Sea in response to the west’s support for Israel.

Shapps clarified that the Houthi movement’s arsenal does not pose an immediate threat to the island of Cyprus as “they cannot even reach Israel”.

“We want to do everything possible to ensure the security of Cyprus, which is in everyone’s best interests. We appreciate that you are in a difficult neighbourhood and want to do everything possible to make it easier,” he added.

He also praised Cyprus’ efforts to create a humanitarian aid corridor between the island and Gaza in light of the ongoing conflict there, saying “it takes a lot of organisational work.”

“The United Kingdom … delivered 87 tonnes of aid via a Royal Navy ship called Lyme Bay, after Cyprus negotiated a way to make this possible,” he said.

Speaking after the meeting, Vasilis Palmas said he and Shapps had discussed “issues of bilateral interest … concerning the situation taking shape in the wider Eastern Mediterranean area and the crisis developing in the Red Sea, as well as the situation in … Ukraine.”

He also said he had told Shapps about “Turkey’s uncompromising stance” on the Cyprus problem, “with particular reference to the withdrawal of the Turkish side from the agreed terms on the issue of Pyla.”

Shapps’ visit to Cyprus is his first to the island since his country began bombing Yemen using its Akrotiri base last week.

Shapps had announced the bombing and the use of Akrotiri to do so via a post on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, posting a video of a Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft taking off from Cyprus.

His colleague, British Armed Forces Minister James Heappey, had later said the bombs had “successfully” hit their targets, and that all the aircraft had safely returned to Akrotiri.

Shapps’ most recent visit to the island came in December, when he travelled to Akrotiri to meet staff on the bases.

Regarding that trip, he told the British parliament that his country’s objectives “include to demonstrate and reaffirm the UK’s continued support for Israel.”

The RAF bases in Cyprus are a very useful asset. They are being used, for example, to provide support to our military in the area,” he added.