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US Calls on Turkey to Halt “Provocative” Drilling Operations Off Cyprus

The United Sates expressed its “deep concern” over Turkey’s drilling operations off Cyprus, including plans to dispatch the drill ship Yavuz south of the island, a State Department spokesman said on Tuesday.

“This provocative step raises tensions in the region. We urge Turkish authorities to halt these operations,” the spokesperson said during a press briefing in Washington.

The spokesman reiterated the standard US position that Washington recognizes the right of the Republic of Cyprus to develop the resources in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ), adding that only the Republic of Cyprus can assert maritime claims from the territory of Cyprus.

The statement follows a letter sent to Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo where he expresses strong and unequivocal American support for Greece’s prosperity and security.

Pompeo stated that ”the United States has supported Greece, and we will keep doing so. We consider Athens a key ally, and a crucial player in the Eastern Mediterranean as well as the Balkans. The United States will remain committed to supporting Greece’s prosperity, security, and democracy.”

This was a rare diplomatic move, since the last time a US Secretary of State sent a letter to a Greek Premier was more than four decades ago, during the tenure of Henry Kissinger.

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