US Concerned with Turkish Statement on Cyprus

WASHINGTON (Reuter)–The United States expressed concern over warnings by Turkey Friday that it was working on measures against the planned deployment of Russian-bought anti-aircraft missiles in Cyprus.

The State Department said that although it disapproved of the Cyprus government’s decision to acquire the S-300 missiles from Moscow–it was "firmly opposed to threats to address the missile question militarily.

"Therefore–we note with concern Turkish Prime Minister [Mesmut] Yilmaz’s statemen’s earlier today regarding the missiles," spokesman James Rubin said in a statement.

Yilmaz said in Ankara that Turkey was "working on precautionary measures" against the planned deployment–and that the S-300 missiles "directly threatened Turkey’s security."

The Cypriot government this year announced plans to buy S-300 surface-to-air missiles from Russia for delivery by mid-1998.

Turkey has previously threatened to take military action to prevent the deployment of the missiles–which would reduce Turkish air superiority over the divided Mediterranean island.

"Russia–as a member of the UN Security Council–does not have the right to see this matter as a purely business deal," Yilmaz said.

Turkey has kept some 30,000 troops in the north of Cyprus since invading in 1974 in response to Greek Cypriot coup in Nicosia. Ankara sponsors a Turkish Cypriot administration that is not recognized internationally. Turkey also said it had found missile parts during a search of an Egyptian ship in Istanbul’s Bosphorus strait this month. Government officials later said they accepted Egyptian explanations that the components were not destined for Cyprus.

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