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Saturday February 24th, 2018 2:36AM

Turkey slams Cyprus for gas search, blocks rig with warships

By The Associated Press
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ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkey's foreign ministry has criticized Cyprus for a "unilateral" offshore hydrocarbons search after Turkish warships prevented a rig from reaching an area off Cyprus where it's to start exploratory drilling for gas.

In a statement Sunday, the ministry said Greek Cypriots were disregarding the "inalienable rights on natural resources" of Turkish Cypriots and jeopardizing the region's stability.

Cyprus was split into an internationally-recognized Greek Cypriot south and a breakaway Turkish Cypriot north in 1974. The ministry said the Cyprus government was acting like "the sole owner of the island" and warned it would be responsible for any consequences.

Turkey also urged foreign companies not to support the Cyprus' government's activities.

Italy's ENI, France's TOTAL and ExxonMobil of the U.S. are licensed to search for hydrocarbons off Cyprus' southern coast.

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