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Turkey: US lifting of Cyprus arms embargo is a 'dangerous escalation'

Turkey described a US decision to end a decades-old arms embargo on the disputed island of Cyprus yesterday, as a "dangerous escalation" in the latest indication of strained relations between the NATO allies.

The warning follows a vote by Congress, as part of a large defence spending bill that passed 86 to eight, having passed through the House of Representatives with President Donald Trump expected to sign it.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry also announced yesterday:  "Greek Cypriot administration will have no outcome other than hampering efforts towards a settlement on the island."

The embargo was imposed in 1987, to prevent further escalation of the conflict on the Mediterranean island, which has been divided since 1974 when the Turkish army invaded it to protect the Turkish speaking population, in response to a coup orchestrated by the then-Greek military junta.

Trump administration refrains from endorsing US Senate measure on Armenian Genocide

The approval by the Senate is the latest incident leading to rising tensions between Washington DC and Ankara, after the Senate unanimously voted last week to recognise the Armenian genocide; something which the Turkish government vehemently dispute, although the US president has sided with Turkey, rejecting the bipartisan effort.

There are also disputes over the US government's support of Kurdish militia in Syria, affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). The US has also threatened Turkey with sanctions over its defiance in proceeding with the purchasing of Russian S-400 missile defence systems, and Turkey's subsequent removal by the US from the F-35 fighter jet programme. Turkish President Erdogan has recently threatened to close two US bases in the country, should the sanctions be imposed.

Additionally a Turkish drone landed in northern Cyprus yesterday, as tensions escalate with Greece over Turkey's deal with Libya, extending its claims to the gas-rich Mediterranean.

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