World News

Russia offers to mediate any Cyprus-Turkey talks

Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in Nicosia, Cyprus September 8, 2020. REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou

MOSCOW/NICOSIA (Reuters) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Cyprus on Tuesday that Moscow was ready to help mediate in any talks with Turkey over energy exploration in the east Mediterranean Sea.

A decades-old rift between Turkey and Cyprus, which is backed by Greece, has come to a head this year in disputes over commercial rights in the east Mediterranean, an area thought to be rich in natural gas.

“As far as your relations with Turkey are concerned, we are ready to promote dialogue, pragmatically based on mutual interests and in search of decisions, which will be fair and based on international law,” Lavrov said at a meeting with Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades in Nicosia.

“Russia considers any steps that could lead to a further escalation of tensions (in the east Mediterranean) unacceptable,” he later added in a news conference.

NATO allies Turkey and Greece are at loggerheads over the extent of their continental shelves. Ankara also disputes the rights of Cyprus to explore for natural gas in the sea area around the island.

Reporting by Maria Kiselyova and Alexander Marrow; Additional reporting by Michele Kambas in Nicosia; Editing by Gareth Jones