NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Cooperation between Britain and Cyprus on sharing information about individuals who could pose a security threat to either country is producing results, the UK’s foreign minister said Friday.
Philip Hammond said after talks with his Cypriot counterpart Ioanis Kasoulides that cooperation has improved over “understanding about where the people that may wish us harm are, who’s moving where.”
Hammond said if suspicious individuals are moving through either Britain or Cyprus, “we make sure that we keep each other informed about those potential threats.”
Cyprus is less than a hundred miles (170 kilometers) west of Syria where the Islamic State group is fighting other rebel groups and President Bashar Assad’s forces.
Authorities want to prevent anyone trying to get into Syria from crossing into Turkey via Cyprus’ breakaway north.
Hammond said Britain is “keen to work” with Cyprus to counter the threat posed by “foreign fighters going to Syria, Iraq and elsewhere.”
A security official told the Associated Press last November that screening at Cypriot ports, airports and checkpoints that dot the island’s dividing line had been stepped up to prevent Europeans en route to Syria to join the Islamic State group from passing through.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly discuss security issues.
Cyprus was split along ethnic lines in 1974 when Turkey invaded after a coup aiming to unite the island with Greece. Only Turkey recognizes a Turkish Cypriot declaration of independence and maintains direct sea and air links with it.