NEWS

Clerides denies US pressure on weapons

Denying press reports that the United States is pressuring Cyprus to get rid of a batch of advanced Soviet military helicopters it bought recently, President Glafcos Clerides said yesterday that no decision has been made to remove any weapons system from the island. «I publicly and categorically state that no ambassador… has proposed, suggested or raised the issue of moving any National Guard weapons system out of Cyprus,» the president said in a statement. He added that reports of a decision to remove specific arms from Cyprus, «bear no relation to the truth.» Clerides said Cyprus possesses weapons which «for evident reasons» it keeps secret. Reports in Greece and Cyprus yesterday said that US Ambassador Donald Bandler has been pressing Clerides to send 12 Russian Mil Mi-35 helicopters to Greece, in view of the ongoing peace talks on Cyprus. In the late 1990s, following intense Western pressure, a batch of Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missiles ordered by Nicosia wound up in Greece.