Turkey warns Cyprus against offshore gas drilling

By the Associated Press | September 15, 2011 | 6:20 AM EDT

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey says it has agreed to conclude a deal to declare sea boundaries with the breakaway Turkish Cypriot state should Cyprus proceed with offshore oil and gas drilling activities in the island's south.

The Foreign Ministry's announcement Thursday comes a day after Cyprus President Dimitris Christofias announced that U.S. firm Noble Energy will soon begin exploratory drilling to confirm deposits beneath the sea bed off Cyprus' southern coast despite Turkey's attempts to prevent such a move.

Christofias didn't specify a date for the start of drilling which officials have said will begin early next month.

Turkey strongly opposes Cyprus' offshore gas search, saying that it disregards the rights of breakaway Turkish Cypriots on the divided island.