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Russian warships allowed at ports of Cyprus for humanitarian purposes -- president

Cyprus' permission for Russian warships to call at the ports of the Mediterranean country was issued as an extension to a previously concluded agreement and not the new one, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said on Thursday.

The addition to the previous agreement stipulates a legal right for the Russian warships to call at the ports of Cyprus with humanitarian aims.

"The renewed agreement stipulates the right for the Russian warships to call at the Cypriot ports," Anastasiades said addressing news conference at TASS. "This right stipulates their calls with humanitarian aims, which are supplies of provision and refueling of vessels, as well as for rescue of lives of Russian nationals and their evacuation from neighboring countries."

Anastasiades said that during negotiations on this "sensitive issue" Russian President Vladimir Putin was "very delicate."

"I deeply respect Mister Putin, who knowing sensitive approaches to such issues in regard to Cyprus, was not laying any conditions or making demands and spoke very delicately with us," the Cypriot president said. "He [Putin] never put us in a complicated position in regard to our partners."

"It was a principal approach of the leader with principles, who protects interests of his country and respects interests of other countries," Anastasiades said.

The Cypriot leader said no extra expenses would be required on both sides for visits of Russian warships to Cyprus.

"Perhaps it will require extra expenses on our behalf in case the National Army of Cyprus would need additional weapons," he said.

"The bulk of weapons in service of the Cypriot army was manufactured in Russia," Anastasiades said. "Besides France, Russia is the only other country supplying Cyprus with arms. We need arms to be able to withstand the threat coming from Turkey."

Following his bilateral meeting with Anastasiades on Wednesday, President Putin said that the warships, which would be calling at the ports of Cyprus, would be first of all "ships participating in international efforts on fighting against terrorism and international piracy."

In an exclusive interview with TASS shortly before his visit to Russia, President Anastasiades said an agreement on military and technical cooperation as well as two documents on the possibility of using airports and seaports of Cyprus by Russian warplanes and warships in humanitarian operations and emergencies would be signed during his visit to Russia on February 24-27.

Russia and Cyprus have an agreement on military cooperation, Anastasiades said in the interview. "We are in dialogue on providing additional possibilities to Russia in humanitarian operations and in emergencies."

Anastasiades said airports and seaports of Cyprus may be available to Russian warplanes and ships in emergency situations and humanitarian operations. In fact, the two counties are updating their effective bilateral military cooperation deal.

According to some previous media reports, Russia allegedly intended to set up military bases on Cyprus.

[Source: Itar Tass, Moscow, 26Feb15]

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