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Egypt defends Cyprus gas deal after Turkey criticism

AFP  |  Cairo 

Egyptian Sameh Shoukry has defended the legality of a 2003 maritime agreement with to boost after his Turkish counterpart called it "null and void".

In 2003 and signed an agreement to set up an exclusive economic zone in the to increase exploration for gas in the area.

Turkey, which has occupied the northern third of since 1974, has repeatedly voiced opposition to drilling off Cyprus.

And ties between and have been strained since ousted in 2013.

In an interview with a Greek newspaper interview this week, Turkish dismissed the 2003 agreement between and Nicosia as "null and void".

Egyptian reacted on Wednesday by warning against "any attempt to infringe on Egypt's sovereign rights".

And yesterday Shoukry insisted on the "validity of the accord", in statement to reporters.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied the northern third of the island in response to a coup sponsored by the military junta then ruling

The member has been actively searching for gas in the

But argues that the breakaway statelet of northern Cyprus it controls has rights to any reserves discovered.

Turkish cautioned the against "one-sided and dangerous" steps.

Turkish has also warned global companies to stay away from any with the Greek or lose Ankara's friendship.

Earlier Thursday, Cyprus announced that exploratory drilling by Italy's ENI and France's Total have discovered "extensive" off the island.

said the data obtained "demonstrates the existence of an extensive column of pure gas".

Egypt, meanwhile, inaugurated in December the offshore Zohr gas field, said to be the biggest in the Mediterranean and discovered by ENI.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, February 09 2018. 02:55 IST