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Turkey: Gas search off Cyprus after arrival of 2nd drillship

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Turkey's foreign minister says his country will begin a search for natural gas in waters off neighboring Cyprus after it takes delivery of a second drillship next month. Mevlut Cavusoglu says exploratory drilling will proceed inside zones where authorities in the breakaway, Turkish Cypriot northern part of ethnically divided Cyprus have licensed Turkey to search for hydrocarbons.

Cavusoglu says Turkey will defend Turkish Cypriot rights to Cyprus' natural resources as long as Greek Cypriots refuse to share them right away. Cavusoglu was speaking Friday after talks with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci.

Cyprus' government says it has full international backing for its sovereign right to exploit the island's natural resources. It says any proceeds from gas discoveries will be shared equitably with Turkish Cypriots after a reunification accord is reached.

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