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US State Dept supports Cyprus’ right to search for offshore gas

A senior US State Department official has repeated Washington’s support for Cyprus’ right to carry out an offshore search for oil and gas, AP reported. Assistant Secretary of State Wess Mitchell said after talks with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades on Friday in Nicosia that the US also wants to see a resumption of talks to reunify the ethnically divided island nation. The statement comes amid Turkey’s strong opposition to what it calls a “unilateral” Greek Cypriot search for hydrocarbons that doesn’t directly involve breakaway Turkish Cypriots. Turkish warships last month prevented a rig from reaching an area southeast of Cyprus where Italian company Eni planned to carry out exploratory drilling. ExxonMobil and partners Qatar Petroleum are expected to start drilling southwest of the island this year, and France’s Total is also licensed to drill.