ExxonMobil Drilling Off Cyprus Despite Turkish Warnings

FILE - ExxonMobil Senior Vice President Neil Chapman, left and and Cyprus' Energy Minister Georgios Lakkotrypis leave after a meeting with Cyprus' president Nicos Anastasiades at the presidential palace in capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Friday Oct. 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

ExxonMobil Vice President Tristan Asprey said the American energy company and its partner, Qatar Petroleum, are going to keep drilling for oil and gas in waters where they are licensed off Cyprus, ignoring Turkish warnings to stop.

In an interview with the Cypriot Sigmalive TV channel, he said while the company is fully aware of tensions in the region he said they had to be resolved diplomatically by governments although Turkish warships had been sent to Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ,) parts of which Ankara doesn’t recognize, along with Laws of the Sea it rejected signing.

He added that plot 10, where Exxon is drilling, is outside the area being disputed by Turkey with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he wouldn’t tolerate foreign energy companies from doing research in the area.

U.S. Ambassador Kathleen Doherty went a drilling ship off the coast being operated by ExxonMobil to show support for Cyprus’ right to look for energy in its EEZ.

She flew there along with Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides, Energy Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis and Asprey.

That came as Elizabeth Neumann, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Assistant Secretary for Threat Prevention and Security Policy, finishing a four-day visit to Athens, said her talks would provide an “important basis” for next month’s US-Greece Strategic Dialogue.

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