The US State Department has affirmed Washington’s view of the Republic of Cyprus as a “valued partner and friend in the Eastern Mediterranean” but it has fallen short of offering a commitment on lifting the decades-old arms embargo.
In a letter dated April 22 to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, American Hellenic Institute (AHI) President Nick Larigakis asked him to utilize the authority delegated to him by President Donald Trump under two recently enacted laws to waive the limitations placed on the transfer of arms to the Republic of Cyprus.
Deputy assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Matthew Palmer responded to the letter saying Washington would review “all tools available to deepen security cooperation with the Republic of Cyprus.”
However, Larigakis admitted that the response failed to address the issue of removing the Mediterranean island from the list of countries to which arms sales are banned under strict US export rules, known as International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).
“AHI will continue to work with the State Department to reach an understanding that it is in US interests to remove the Republic of Cyprus from the ITAR list altogether, especially if the United States values Cyprus as a partner and cooperation is at a historic high,” Larigakis said.
Washington imposed an embargo on the divided island in 1987 with an aim to prevent an arms race and encourage a peaceful settlement between the two communities.