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Cyprus won’t halt its gas-drilling for dispute-solving talks with Turkey – president

Cyprus won’t halt its gas-drilling for dispute-solving talks with Turkey – president

Cyprus won’t put its exploratory gas drilling plans on hold despite Ankara’s attempt to force the east Mediterranean island nation to halt its activities by conducting its own gas search in Cypriot waters, Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades has said.

Pausing drilling in the face of Turkish pressure would be tantamount to Cyprus abrogating its sovereign rights, Anastasiades added on Sunday.

However, the president is ready to engage with Turkey on charting a course to a deal that would reunify Cyprus, which has been divided into ethnically Greek and Turkish areas since the 1970s, AP reported. That, he said, won’t happen if Turkey sets preconditions such as the suspension of offshore drilling for such peace talks to take place.

Only Ankara recognizes the breakaway Turkish Cypriot state on the island’s north. Cyprus was split in 1974 when Turkey invaded in the wake of a coup aimed at union with Greece. Turkish warship-escorted vessels are drilling in waters where Cyprus has exclusive economic rights.