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Monday, July 13, 1998 Published at 12:07 GMT 13:07 UK


World: Europe

Cyprus confirms missile deal

Russia will deliver the missiles later this year

Cyprus is going ahead with a controversial deal to buy anti-aircraft missiles from Russia despite Turkey's threats to retaliate.

Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides confirmed the deal at a meeting in Moscow.


BBC correspondent Chris Drake: "Missile deal is a publicity stunt that has backfired"
Russian officials say the S-300 surface-to-air missiles will be delivered later this year as planned. Cypriot troops completed training in the use of the system last week.

The sale has been criticised by Turkish Cypriot leaders and Turkey, which has said it would take "appropriate measures" in response.

Turkey has also warned it might use force to block deployment of the missiles, saying they represent a threat to its own security and to that of Turkish Cypriots.

Military experts have said Ankara is afraid the S-300s will make it impossible to air-lift troops to the island and to support them from the air in case of a conflict.


[ image: Both sides of the island have F-16 fighter-bombers]
Both sides of the island have F-16 fighter-bombers
Mr Clerides has said he would consider delaying the arrival of the missiles if reunification talks with the Turkish Cypriots resumed and progress was made.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded the northern part of the island in response to a Greek-inspired coup attempt.

The Turkish Cypriots declared their independence in 1983, but their state is recognised only by Ankara.

The BBC correspondent in Nicosia says that the purchase of the missiles is a publicity stunt which has backfired on Cyprus.

He says Cyprus originally announced its intention to buy the S-300s as a way of increasing pressure on the international community to intervene to secure a peace settlement for the island.

But he says as the peace negotiations remain stalled, Cyprus cannot now pull out of the missile deal without appearing to be backing down to Turkey.



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