Cyprus cancels meet with Lavrov after EU says will step up sanctions

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Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov delivers his speech as he meets with heads of diplomatic missions accredited in Russia, in Moscow

NICOSIA (Reuters) - Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades cancelled a meeting scheduled with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in New York after EU foreign ministers agreed to prepare new sanctions against Russia, a government official said on Thursday.

The two had been expected to meet on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly late on Wednesday.

"In anticipation of the decisions of the EU the guidelines from Brussels to avoid bilateral meetings with Russia were followed," Cyprus government spokesman Marios Pelekanos told state radio.

Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides had earlier participated in a meeting of the EU's foreign ministers in New York.

EU member Cyprus has close political and economic ties with Russia, but has followed Brussels lead in imposing sanctions on the country in response to its invasion of Ukraine.

(Writing By Michele Kambas; Editing by Alex Richardson)