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Second Turkish drilling ship launched off Cyprus: report

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Turkey launched a second drilling ship on Thursday which will conduct natural gas operations off the northeast coast of Cyprus for three months, a move that risks aggravating a conflict with Cyprus over jurisdiction rights for oil and gas exploration, Reuters reported.

Turkey and the internationally recognized Cypriot government have overlapping claims in that part of the Mediterranean, an area thought to be rich in natural gas.

Energy Minister Fatih Dönmez said at the launch of the vessel, Yavuz, it would operate in a borehole near Cyprus’ Karpaz Peninsula, and reach a depth of 3,300 meters (3,609 yards).

Turkey already has a ship off the coast of Cyprus, and Cyprus last week issued arrest warrants for its crew.

European Union leaders are set to warn Turkey on Thursday to end its gas drilling in the disputed waters or face action from the bloc, as Greece and Cyprus pressed other EU states to speak out.

Gathering for an EU summit in Brussels, leaders are expected to issue a formal statement saying Turkey’s drilling is “illegal” and that the bloc “stands ready to respond appropriately,” according to a draft seen by Reuters.

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