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Energy

Turkey's Erdogan floats regional conference in tense east Med

UNITED NATIONS, Sept 22 (Reuters) - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday proposed a regional conference with all Mediterranean coastal states, including the breakaway Turkish Cypriots, to address tensions over maritime boundaries and hydrocarbon exploration in the region.

Addressing the United Nations General Assembly in a video message, Erdogan said Turkey’s primary preference was to solve disagreements “justly and in an appropriate way” through talks, but added that “futile” attempts to exclude Turkey from plans in the eastern Mediterranean could not succeed.

NATO members Turkey and Greece are at odds over rights to potential energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean and the extent of their continental shelves.

Tensions heated up last month when Turkey sent a seismic survey vessel to waters claimed by Greece and Cyprus, but they cooled a bit last week when Ankara recalled the ship in a move welcomed by Greece and the European Union.

“I would like to reiterate our call to establish dialogue and cooperation with coastal states in the Mediterranean,” Erdogan added. “So we are proposing the holding a regional conference where the rights and interests of all coastal states are taken into consideration, and where Turkish Cypriots are present too.” (Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Jonathan Spicer)

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