UK minister expects closer defense ties with Cyprus military

Cyprus' Defense Minister Christoforos Fokaides, left, welcomes the Britain's Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson at the Defense Ministry for their talks in capital NIcosia, Cyprus, Friday, Jan. 5, 2018. Williamson says authorities are looking to ensure British armed forces 'work closer and more supportively' with Cyprus' armed forces in tackling common challenges. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
Cyprus' Defense Minister Christoforos Fokaides, right, and Britain's Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson talk to the media during a press conference at the Defense Ministry after their talks in capital NIcosia, Cyprus, Friday, Jan. 5, 2018. Williamson says authorities are looking to ensure British armed forces 'work closer and more supportively' with Cyprus' armed forces in tackling common challenges. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

NICOSIA, Cyprus — Britain's defense minister says authorities want to ensure that British armed forces "work closer and more supportively" with Cyprus' military in tackling common challenges.

Britain has two military bases on Cyprus, which was a British colony until 1960. It continues to carry out air strikes against Islamic State group targets in Iraq and Syria from the Mediterranean island nation.

Defense Minister Gavin Williamson said after talks with Cypriot counterpart Christoforos Fokaides on Friday that the threats faced by the U.K. and Cyprus cannot be underestimated.

Williamson thanked Cyprus for supporting Britain's role in fighting IS.

Fokaides says Cyprus' enhanced military ties with Britain won't be affected by Britain's departure from the European Union next year.

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