Turkey has said it will suspend research for oil and gas exploration off a Greek island amid tensions in the eastern Mediterranean, Al Jazeera reported.
Greece’s navy last week said it had deployed ships in the Aegean in “heightened readiness” after Turkey announced plans for energy exploration near the island of Kastellorizo.
In an interview with national broadcaster CNN Türk, spokesman İbrahim Kalın said on Tuesday President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had requested that operations be put on hold.
A Turkish vessel, the Oruç Reis, planned to search for hydrocarbons “180 kilometers [110 miles] from the island of Meis [Kastellorizo in Greek],” Kalin said.
“Despite this, our president said while the negotiations are continuing, let’s be constructive and hold for a while,” he said.
Kalın on Tuesday said Greece was an “important neighbor” to Turkey and added, “We are ready to discuss with Greece without any conditions.”
On Monday Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas said Turkey was withdrawing navy vessels from the area, adding that Athens remained ready to enter negotiations with Turkey “within the framework of international law and good neighborly relations.”
Long-standing tensions between the uneasy NATO allies escalated last week after Turkey’s navy on Tuesday issued an advisory known as a Navtex for seismic surveys in the waters between Cyprus and Crete.