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NICOSIA, May 22 (Itar-Tass) - The Republic of Cyprus will continue to provide its ports for Russian ships, and it believes that such assistance is an important factor in ensuring security in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East, Fotis Fotiou, the Defence Minister of Cyprus, told Itar-Tass on Tuesday in an interview ahead of his three-day visit to Russia. He is due to leave for Moscow on Wednesday, May 22.
"Cyprus renders assistance to the ships of the Russian Federation (RF), as well as to those of other countries, including the United States, Germany, Spain, and France," the Minister said. "Apart from that, we have no official request on the part of Russia for the possibility of ships' calls at the ports of the Republic on a permanent basis. We grant individual assistance requests which are forwarded through diplomatic channels".
Fotiou said such assistance would be given to Russia henceforth as well. "We consider that the rendering of assistance to ships is an important factor in ensuring security in the region," he emphasized.
:"Our relations with Russia are stable and long-term, and we seek to strengthen them still further in all fields," the Minister said. "Russia is one of great powers and a global player. Therefore it is quite obvious that cooperation with the RF is of vital importance for the maintenance of peace and stability in the region".
On May 15, Russia's Pacific Fleet ships, led by the large anti-submarine ship Admiral Panteleyev, the flagship of the naval squadron, entered the Mediterranean through the Suez Canal to relieve the Black Sea Fleet ships. On May 17, the Admiral Panteleyev made a routine call at the port of the Cypriot city of Limassol to replenish stocks. Last Saturday Defence Minister Fotiou and Vyacheslav Shumsky, the Ambassador of the RF to Cyprus, visited the ship. On May 20, the ship left Cyprus.