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US Congressmen welcome lifting of arms ban

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Friends of Cyprus in the US Congress, Greek and Jewish American organizations welcomed the decision of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to waive restrictions allowing the export of non-lethal defence articles to Nicosia.

The decision is part of the Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act of 2019, a law that provides a comprehensive recalibration of American diplomatic, military, and economic policy towards the region.

Senator Robert Menendez who introduced the EastMed Act was “delighted to see recognition of the importance of our relationship with Cyprus, a reliable strategic partner for our nation.

It is in our national security interest to lift these outdated decades-long arms restrictions and deepen our security relationship with the Republic of Cyprus.”

While long overdue, allowing sales of non-lethal security equipment, coupled with the earlier announcement of a U.S. military and education training program, reflects the critical importance of the U.S.-Republic of Cyprus bilateral relationship and the growing importance of the Eastern Mediterranean region to U.S. national security interests.”

Democrat congressman David Cicilline, from Rhode Island, posted on his Twitter account: “I started the effort to lift the arms embargo on Cyprus four years ago because it wasn’t in our interests. Today, the State Department finally lifted it, making America and the eastern Mediterranean more secure.”

Republican congressman from Florida, Gus Bilirakis tweeted:  “American values and national interests are advanced through a stronger bilateral relationship with #Cyprus. Today, I am thrilled that @SecPompeo exercised the provisions of the #EastMedAct – which I co-authored – to lift the arms embargo on Cyprus and allow non-lethal aid.”

Greek American organisation AHEPA said:  “We commend the Trump administration for recognizing it is in the best interest of the United States to take this action that further enhances relations between the United States and the Republic of Cyprus.”

American Jewish Committee (AJC) and the Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC) also welcomed the decision describing it as a “milestone” in the US – Cyprus bilateral relationship.

“Secretary Pompeo’s action is a milestone in the U.S.-Cyprus bilateral relationship, one that will have a positive effect on the increasingly integrated Eastern Mediterranean,” said AJC CEO David Harris.

“Given Cyprus’ strategic location and key diplomatic ties in the region, the U.S. needed to have a substantive security relationship with Nicosia,” he added.

“Since 2014, when Vice President Biden declared that Cyprus is a ‘strategic partner’ of the United States, we have been looking forward to this development,” said HALC Executive Director Endy Zemenides.

“Thanks to the East Med Act, the State Department was given the impetus to take a significant leap forward in the U.S. relationship with Cyprus.

It also signals that Ankara is no longer being given a veto over the bilateral relationship between Washington and Nicosia.” (source CNA)