CNA News

UK Defence Secretary assures of Cyprus safety amid Houthi concerns

UK Defence Secretary, Grant Shapps, said on Friday that they were doing everything possible to ensure the safety and security of Cyprus, invited to comment on concerns regarding the security of the island, following operations launched from the British Bases in Akrotiri targeting Houthi forces.

Replying to journalists’ questions after his meeting with the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Nikos Christodoulides, and the Minister of Defence Vasilis Palmas, at the Presidential Palace, Shapps stated that the Houthi weapons, which haven’t even been able to reach Israel, posed no imminent danger to Cyprus. He emphasised the United Kingdom’s commitment to mitigating any potential threats, ensuring that actions were taken to diminish the capabilities of the Houthi forces.

“They certainly couldn’t reach Cyprus” Shapps stated, acknowledging the strategic importance of safeguarding the island’s security.

“We are doing everything possible to ensure the safety and security of Cyprus, which is in everybody’s interest” the Minister said. He acknowledged that Cyprus is in a “difficult neighborhood”, and said that “we want to do everything possible to make that easier.”

Moreover, Shapps underscored the importance of freedom of navigation in the region, a principle upheld, as he said, by both the United Kingdom and the Republic of Cyprus.

Regarding the transportation of humanitarian aid to Gaza, he praised President Christodoulides’ relevant initiative and mentioned that options are being examined to provide maximum humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza even more directly. One of the options he mentioned involves, instead of the aid going to Egypt, going directly to Israel and even using the Kerem Shalom crossing as a gateway.

The Defence Secretary also said that they discussed the commitment to providing aid to Gaza, with the UK having recently delivered 87 tonnes of aid via a Royal Navy ship named Lyme Bay, after Cyprus negotiated a way of doing this. Shapps expressed the desire to explore more direct routes for aid delivery and commended the Israeli government’s openness to utilising Kerem Shalom as a gateway, despite acknowledging the challenges.