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Turkish survey ship begins operations in east Mediterranean - minister

FILE PHOTO: Turkish seismic research vessel Oruc Reis is seen in Istanbul, Turkey, August 22, 2019. REUTERS/Murad Sezer/File Photo

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - A Turkish seismic survey ship has reached the location in the eastern Mediterranean where it will operate and was beginning to take readings on Wednesday, Turkey’s Energy Minister Fatih Donmez said.

In a move reviving tensions with Greece, Ankara sent the Oruc Reis vessel to a disputed area near the Greek island of Kastellorizo off Turkey’s coast on Monday. Greece said it was a “major escalation” of their dispute over maritime rights and claims to hydrocarbon resources in the region.

“Oruc Reis has reached the area in the eastern Mediterranean where it will carry out its activities. Tests began yesterday and we are beginning to receive the first seismic readings today,” Donmez told a conference by video link.

Turkey had withdrawn the vessel from contested waters in the region last month to “allow diplomacy” before an European Union summit at which sanctions against Turkey were discussed.

On Tuesday, the United States slammed Turkey’s decision to send the vessel back, accusing Ankara of unilaterally stoking tensions and “deliberately” complicating the resumption of talks with Greece. [nL1N2H40I4]

Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen and Can Sezer; Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Tuvan Gumrukcu and Tomasz Janowski

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