Oil drilling off Cyprus sparks threat from Turkey

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A US energy company has begun exploratory drilling for oil and gas off the coast of Cyprus despite strong warnings from Turkey not to do so, the divided island's energy chief confirmed yesterday.

The comments reflected an escalating dispute over mineral deposits in the eastern Mediterranean, complicated by the status of Cyprus. The island has been divided since 1974 into an internationally recognised Greek-Cypriot south and a breakaway Turkish-Cypriot north.

Turkey said yesterday it would send warshipsto protect its claims to undersea resources off the coast of Cyprus if drilling began. AP