US Congress to lift 1987 arms embargo on Cyprus

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The United States Congress is expected to approve by Thursday the lifting of the embargo on the sale of US arms to Cyprus, in place since 1987.

Lifting of the weapons ban signals closer bilateral relations enjoyed by Nicosia and Washington and Cyprus’ growing influence in the region.

The embargo will be lifted once Congress passes the National Defense Authorization Act for 2020.

Although both Congress chambers passed two separate bills since the end of last July, it was not possible to agree on a single document due to differences between Republicans and the Democrats in relation to the wall which US President Donald Trump wants to build along the US-Mexican border.

In both texts, the wording concerning the lifting of the embargo is identical.

Last weekend there was an agreement among arbitrators appointed by the House of Representatives and the Senate.

This was confirmed by prominent Democrats, without giving further details. The vote in the House is scheduled for Wednesday and will be followed by a vote in the Senate, later the same day or on Thursday. After the bill passes from both Chambers, it will go to President Trump for signature.

The bill allows US exports to the Republic of Cyprus for the supply of defence-related material. It also notes that it is in the interest of the US to continue supporting UN-facilitated efforts for a comprehensive settlement to end the division of Cyprus.

It also says that it is in the interest of the US that the Republic of Cyprus becomes part of the “Partnership for Peace” NATO programme.

The provision to lift the embargo will enter immediately into force once the bill passes. According to information, the bill reiterates the ban on the transfer of F-35 fighters to Turkey. (source CNA)