US BACKS CYPRUS GAS EXPLORATION DESPITE TURKEY’S OBJECTIONS
The US wants tighter cooperation on developing gas finds in the “strategically significant” eastern Mediterranean and supports Cyprus’ right to exploit hydrocarbon deposits discovered in its waters, a senior US State Department official said Sunday.
US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale said hydrocarbon development would aim to “provide durable energy security and economic prosperity throughout the Mediterranean,” according to the US Embassy in Cyprus, Menelaos Hadjicostis wrote for the Associated Press (AP.)
The statement was issued after Hale met with Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides to discuss the eastern Mediterranean’s “growing strategic significance” as well as recent developments in the region, including the devastating Aug. 4 blast in Lebanon’s capital of Beirut.
Hale’s brief visit to the island nation came amid growing military tensions over Turkey’s gas prospecting in waters where European Union (EU) members Greece and Cyprus say they have exclusive economic rights. On Friday, EU foreign ministers expressed “full solidarity” with Greece and Cyprus and urged an “immediate de-escalation” by Turkey as Greek and Turkish navy ships shadowed each other. Turkey had earlier dispatched a pair of warship-escorted research vessels to explore the southeastern sides of both Crete and Cyprus. But on Sunday, Turkey appeared to be upping the ante by announcing that another drill ship, the Yavuz, would be conducting a month-long hydrocarbons search off Cyprus’ southwestern coast.