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U.S. Department of State
97/01/06 Statement: Cyprus Missile Contract
Office of the Spokesman

Press Statement by Nicholas Burns/Spokesman
January 6, 1997

                           Cyprus Missile Contract

The Government of Cyprus signed a contract January 4 to purchase the 
Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missile system.  The United States regrets 
this step and we have made it clear to the Government of Cyprus and 
others that we believe this will complicate efforts to achieve a lasting 
peace in Cyprus.  The Cypriot decision introduces a new and 
destabilizing military element on the island and in the region, at the 
very time the international community is exploring ways to foster 
political cooperation to significantly advance a settlement.  Cyprus is 
already one of the most militarized areas in the world.  Turkey 
maintains a very large military force on the island and both sides are 
very heavily armed.

Lasting security and peace for the people on the island can only be 
achieved at the bargaining table, with all sides committed to finding a 
solution.  The past has shown that importing weapons has brought only 
arms increases from the other side.  This new missile system is even 
more troubling as it threatens to take the arms buildup on Cyprus to a 
new qualitative level.  The UN Security Council only last month warned 
that the importation of sophisticated weaponry threatens to raise 
tensions and complicate peace efforts.  Regardless of when the system 
might be deployed, we believe the conclusion of this sales contract 
makes any mediation effort that much more difficult and harms the 
political atmosphere.  The action of the Government of Cyprus is a step 
down the wrong path.

The United States remains committed to pursuing efforts to resolve the 
Cyprus problem.  Working with the international community, President 
Clinton is determined to move forward.  For these efforts to succeed, 
the parties and their partners in the region must also be prepared to 
make the tough choices needed to achieve peace.  All bear responsibility 
to adopt concrete measures to decrease tensions 

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