Israel backs Cyprus' offshore oil and gas search

Associated Press
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, shakes hands with Cyprus' Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, right, at the Foreign house in capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014. Lieberman is in Cyprus for a two-day official visit. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
Copyright 2014, The Associated Press

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Israel's foreign minister says Cyprus' right to explore for oil and gas off its shores must be respected by all countries, including Turkey.

Avigdor Lieberman said after talks with his Cypriot counterpart Ioannis Kasoulides on Wednesday that all nations must respect the sovereignty of their neighbors and that it's "extremely unnecessary" to stir any more tension in a conflict-ridden region.

Turkey doesn't recognize ethnically divided Cyprus as a sovereign state and strongly opposes its gas search, arguing that it ignores the rights of breakaway Turkish Cypriots to any mineral-generated wealth.

Lieberman said Israel, whose relations with Turkey are strained, is looking to achieve "tangible results next year" in its cooperation with Cyprus to exploit gas reserves that have been found in so-called exclusive economic zones of both countries.

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