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.