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Iran Press TV

Russia offers to mediate between Cyprus, Turkey in maritime dispute

Iran Press TV

Tuesday, 08 September 2020 10:30 AM

Russia has offered to mediate between Cyprus and Turkey in a dispute over energy exploration rights in the Mediterranean Sea.

"As far as your relations with Turkey are concerned, we are ready to promote dialog, pragmatically based on mutual interests and in search of decisions, which will be fair and based on international law," Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades during a formal visit to the island country's capital of Nicosia on Tuesday.

Tensions have escalated between Turkey on the one side and Greece and Cyprus on the other in recent months over commercial rights in the eastern Mediterranean, which is believed to be rich in natural gas.

Cyprus has been divided into two parts since 1974. The northern third is run by a Turkish Cypriot administration recognized only by Turkey, and the southern two-thirds is governed by the internationally-recognized Greek Cypriot government.

Last Tuesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also contacted the Cypriot president to announce that Washington was partially lifting its 33-year arms embargo on Cyprus.

The announcement drew strong reaction from Turkey, which promised to take unspecified countermeasures.

Turkey started sailing a seismic research vessel and escorting naval ships in waters disputed by fellow NATO member Greece in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, heightening tensions with Athens over the limits of their continental shelves.

Greece has deployed its own naval ships to shadow the Turkish vessels. Last month, one of the Turkish vessels was involved in a minor collision with one of the Greek ships.

Meanwhile, France has stepped up its military presence in the area and cooperation with both Greece and Cyprus in gestures of support.

Greece and Turkey almost went to war in 1974 over Cyprus.

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