Washington announced its decision on Wednesday, angering Turkey, a Washington ally in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which occupies the northern third of the Mediterranean island.
Cypriot government spokesman Kyriakos Koshos said that the decision is “a new measure that contributes to the promotion of Cyprus’ relations with the United States.”
He continued in a statement that “it is also a symbol of the enhanced role of our country as a pillar of stability, security and cooperation.”
The Mediterranean island has been divided since 1974 between a republic Cyprus Member of the European Union and the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus”, which is recognized only by Ankara.
Tensions have escalated recently due to Turkey’s gas exploration off the island, which the European Union has described as illegal.
Koshos said: Cyprus will continue to cooperate and strengthen its relations with all countries to enhance stability and security in the region.
This cooperation is part of the American International Military Education and Training Program, which aims to train foreign officers and enhance cooperation between friendly countries and American forces.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters, “This is part of our effort to strengthen relationships with key regional partners. To enhance stability in the eastern Mediterranean. ”
But Turkey was quick to protest against Washington’s decision to strengthen its military cooperation with Nicosia.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement: “Such measures do not contribute to efforts to find a solution to the Cyprus problem, but rather reinforce the rigid position of the Greek Cypriot side.”
The decision comes after the US Congress ended last year a decades-old arms embargo on the Mediterranean island, of which Turkey occupies a northern one-third.
The United States imposed an arms embargo on the island in 1987, in an attempt to avoid an arms race and promote a peaceful solution on the island, whose Greek Cypriots make up the majority of its population.
Critics say the decision backfired by forcing Cyprus, currently a member of the European Union, to search for other partners, while Turkey angered the United States by buying an advanced missile defense system from Russia, despite its membership in NATO.
In 1974, Turkey occupied the northern part of Cyprus in response to a coup by Cypriot nationalists seeking to annex the island to Greece.
Turkey does not recognize the government of Cyprus, and their relations have been strained by the discovery of huge gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean.
The UN-backed talks on reuniting the island on the basis of two regions and two groups collapsed in July 2017, and they have not resumed since.