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US to accelerate non-lethal arms sales to Cyprus

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Washington is looking at ways of speeding up procedures to supply Cyprus with non-lethal weapons after the lifting of a US arms embargo last year.

Cyprus Defence Minister Charalambos Petrides and US Ambassador Judith Garber discussed on Wednesday possible ways of expediting actions for the sales of non-lethal equipment from US companies.

The United States partially lifted a 33-year arms embargo on Cyprus to deepen its security cooperation with Nicosia.

Washington placed restrictions on the transfer of arms to Cyprus in 1987 to encourage reunification efforts and avoid an arms race on the island.

According to a Defence Ministry statement, Petrides and Garber reviewed the two countries bilateral relations on defence and security matters and prospects for further cooperation.

They reaffirmed there is ground and common desire to expand existing defence and security agreements and reinforce them.

Under the US International Military Education and Training (IMET) programme, a Cyprus National Guard officer has been offered a place at the US National Defence University College of International Security Affairs for the academic year 2021-2022.

Moreover, consultations are underway so that other military officers will be given the opportunity to study at US military academies while military personnel from the two countries will participate in exercises and joint training programmes.

A joint training exercise of special naval forces is being conducted in Crete with the participation of Greece, Cyprus, and the US, in the framework of exercise Orion to take place in Greece in June.

Lifting the embargo and funding military training for Cyprus falls under America’s Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act of 2019, which aims to strengthen a security partnership in the region with Nicosia, Athens, and Israel.