March 20, 2011 / 3:21 PM / in 9 years

Cyprus says against use of British bases for Libya

A U.S. Air Force AWACS surveillance aircraft comes in for a landing at the Royal Air Force base at Akrotiri in Cyprus March 20, 2011. REUTERS/Andrew Winning

LIMASSOL, Cyprus (Reuters) - Cyprus said on Sunday it opposed any use of British bases on the island to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya but conceded it had no power to stop their involvement.

Britain has two sovereign military bases on Cyprus, an island in the eastern Mediterranean and a former colony.

A command centre to coordinate the movement of British assets over Libya has been set up at an RAF base at Akrotiri, on the southern coast of the island.

“Unfortunately these bases are sovereign and can be used merely with Britain issuing an advisory (to Cyprus). We have given the message to Britain that we do not wish for these bases to be used, that we are against that,” Cypriot President Demetris Christofias told reporters.

His communist party has frequently called for the closure of British bases on the island.

The British bases’ headquarters said Akrotiri was not being used to launch offensive strikes on Libya, nor was it hosting air assets from any other nation for the operation.

There were no plans to deploy Typoon or Tornado aircraft at the base, it said in a statement. There were surveillance aircraft at the facility, it said.

In London, Defence Secretary Liam Fox told BBC television Britain would deploy Typhoons and Tornadoes to a base in southern Italy either later on Sunday or on Monday.

Writing by Michele Kambas, editing by Mike Peacock

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