The U.S. has denied its naval forces in the eastern Mediterranean are there to protect one of the country’s largest energy firms while it surveys the region.
Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency carried a statement from the U.S. Euro Command claiming there was “no truth in the allegation that the U.S. 6th Fleet is in the Eastern Mediterranean to protect ExxonMobil”.
It said the arrival of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group and 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit were part of a “scheduled deployment” and not in conjunction with the work of ExxonMobil’s survey ships.
Tensions in the area have been fraught for weeks as Turkish warships have sought to impose their presence in Cypriot waters, forcing Italian energy giant Eni to withdraw a drill ship.
This week a U.S. State Department spokesman said: “The United States recognizes the right of the Republic of Cyprus to develop its resources in its Exclusive Economic Zone.”
Earlier in the week, a close adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, warned that Ankara would strike if Cyprus continues with its plans to drill.