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US Urges Turkey against Drilling off Cyprus

US officials pressed Turkey on Sunday against going forward with plans to start exploratory drilling for oil and gas off Cyprus, labeled as illegal by the European Union, France24 reports.

"The United States is deeply concerned by Turkey's announced intentions to begin offshore drilling operations in an area claimed by the Republic of Cyprus as its Exclusive Economic Zone," State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.

"This step is highly provocative and risks raising tensions in the region. We urge Turkish authorities to halt these operations and encourage all parties to act with restraint."

On Friday, Turkey announced its vessels would be carrying out drilling operations in the Mediterranean until September. According to reports in Cypriot media, the operation will encroach on Cyprus's exclusive economic zone.

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