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US urges Turkey against drilling operations off Cyprus

May 6, 2019 at 10:52 am

The US has urged Turkey to reconsider its decision to start offshore drilling operations in Cyprus, according to a statement, reports Anadolu Agency.

“The United States is deeply concerned by Turkey’s announced intentions to begin offshore drilling operations in an area claimed by the Republic of Cyprus as its Exclusive Economic Zone,” Morgan Ortagus, spokesperson for the US Department State said in a statement on Sunday.

“This step is highly provocative and risks raising tensions in the region,” Ortagus added. “We urge Turkish authorities to halt these operations and encourage all parties to act with restraint,” it said.

READ: Cyprus accuses Turkey of blocking ship again in gas exploration standoff

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when a Greek Cypriot coup was followed by violence against the island’s Turks and Ankara’s intervention as a guarantor power.

It has seen an on-and-off peace process in recent years, including the collapse of a 2017 initiative in Switzerland under the auspices of guarantor countries Turkey, Greece and the UK.

Turkey has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration’s unilateral drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, saying Turkish Cypriots also have rights to the resources in the area.