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Greece sends letters to UN over Turkey-Libya deal

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece has sent two letters to the United Nations explaining its objections to a maritime boundary deal between Turkey and Libya and asking for the matter to be taken up by the U.N. Security Council, the government spokesman said Tuesday.

The country’s foreign minister also convened a meeting in Athens to brief political party leaders on developments. The deal, endorsed by Turkey’s parliament last week, has fueled regional tension, particularly over drilling rights for gas and oil exploration.

The agreement would give Turkey and Libya access to an economic zone across the Mediterranean despite the objections of Greece, Egypt and Cyprus, which lie between the two geographically. All three countries have blasted the deal as being contrary to international law, and Greece expelled the Libyan ambassador last week over the issue.

Government spokesman Stelios Petsas said Greece sent one letter to the U.N. secretary general and one to the head of the U.N. Security Council on Monday night detailing Greece’s position. The letters state the agreement “blatantly violates the rules of the International Law of the Sea on maritime delimitation because, first and foremost, Turkey and Libya have neither overlapping maritime zones, nor common boundaries and, consequently, there is no legal basis to lawfully conclude a maritime delimitation agreement.”

The boundaries set out in the deal “are fictitious, unlawful, arbitrary and provocative, and openly infringe on Greece's sovereign rights in that maritime area, thus seriously endangering regional peace and stability,” the letters said.

Neighbors Greece and Turkey, although NATO allies, have tense relations and are divided by a series of decades-old disputes, including territorial issues in the Aegean Sea. They have come to the brink of war three times since the 1970s, including once over drilling rights in the Aegean.

Petsas said the letter to U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres asked for the deal not to be published by the organization's division for ocean affairs and the law of the sea. The text addressed to the U.N. Security Council calls on the body to condemn the deal.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias raised the issue on Monday at a meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Brussels, garnering clear statements of support from some of his European counterparts.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said some of the bloc's members were concerned, but that the EU would study the deal further before deciding whether to take action. He said that the EU would be "studying this question very closely, being clear that any agreement must respect international law.”

Lorne Cook in Brussels contributed.

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