U.S. House approves bill to end arms embargo on Cyprus

The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday passed a bill setting defence spending levels for the Department of Defense next year, which includes a call to end the U.S. arms embargo in Greek Cyprus.

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020, which passed the House, coincides with Turkey’s acquisition of the Russian S-400 missile system.

The first shipment of the Russian-made S-400 landed in Ankara on Friday amid soaring tensions between Turkey and the United States over the purchase.

Washington has threatened Ankara with economic sanctions over the purchase, in addition to being expelled from the joint manufacturing programme of F-35 stealth fighter jets after receiving S-400 surface-to-air defence systems.

The arms embargo was imposed on Greek Cyprus in 1987 in order to encourage reunification by preventing an arms race on the divided island.

Cyprus was split in 1974 following a Turkish invasion in the wake of a coup aimed at union with Greece. Turkish Cypriots founded a breakaway state on the northern part of the island recognised only by Turkey. 

The defence bill now moves to the U.S. Senate, where it awaits further consideration.