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Israeli Journalist Says US Wants Military Build-up on Cyprus

December 11, 2018

Disputed reports the United States wants a greater military presence on Cyprus, as Turkish warships want to keep foreign energy companies away have arisen again after an Israeli journalist said the US, Israel, Greece and Cyprus were planning a joint exercise.

Cyprus’ government had adamantly rebutted reports the US wants to build up on the island as Russia had said but Amichai Stein, a correspondent for Israel’s broadcasting authority who has contributed to the Russian news outlet Sputnik, tweeted: #Exclusive: “Advance talks” for US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to participat (sic) “In the coming months” in a 4-way summit with the leaders of Israel, Greece and Cyprus; US is also considering a 4-way military exercise in the East-Med @kann_news”.

That came a few days after Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said a US delegation had inspected potential sites for bases in the region and that Washington was negotiating with Cyprus over an expanded military cooperation.

“It [Cyprus] is being drawn into US and NATO plans in the eastern Mediterranean,” she added. “In Moscow we can’t ignore the anti-Russian element in these [US] plans and in the event that they are implemented we will be forced to take countermeasures.”

“The further militarization of the island and its involvement in the implementation of American and NATO plans will inevitably lead to dangerous and destabilizing consequences for Cyprus itself,” she said.

“We have repeatedly pointed [this] out to the leadership of Cyprus … Moscow cannot but take into consideration the anti-Russian background of these schemes. We will have to take response measures in case of their implementation,” a veiled threat without any details that was repeated by Russia’s embassy in Israel later.

Cypriot Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides spoke to his Russian counterpart Sergi Lavrov and declared the matter closed while the US State Department said the Russian claims were “absurd,” as Moscow said it would retaliate.

A State Department spokesperson said that “in November the United States and Cyprus signed a non-binding statement of intent expressing both countries’ desire to explore opportunities to deepen bilateral security cooperation on a wide range of issues including counterterrorism, disaster response, cyber security, and anti-money laundering.”

Despite the flap, Russian Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Alexander Grushko will be visiting Cyprus on Dec. 14, the Cyprus News Agency said, which was scheduled before the issue arose and long after Russia said it would like Naval bases in the region.

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