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23.09.2011

Turkish Ship To Leave For Cyprus Gas Exploration

Turkey said a research ship will leave Friday for gas exploration off divided Cyprus, in an apparent response to a move by Greek Cypriots to press ahead with drilling in the eastern Mediterranean.

Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz told a news conference that the ship Piri Reis "will set out tomorrow for seismic exploration off the island."

Ankara's decision to dispatch the ship comes one day after it signed an accord with breakaway northern Cyprus opening the way for gas search in designated areas off the island.

Despite a call from the European Union to desist, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed the continental shelf delimitation agreement with the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), a statelet only recognised by Turkey.

Yildiz said the ship, which is currently in Izmir port, in the Aegean, would operate in areas covered in the agreement.

The Turkish government has said a navy warship would escort exploration vessels to the island.

Yildiz however said he did not expect any tension in the Mediterranean "in the short run."

Copyright 2011, AFP. All rights reserved.

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