Nicosia, CYPRUS-- Cyprus appears headed for a showdown with Turkey over Nicosia's plans to begin oil and gas exploration in the east Mediterranean. Cyprus Foreign Minister Kozakou Marcoullis says there is interest from international companies in her government's tender and wants to issue exploration permits for 60,000 sq km (23,166 sq mi) in 11 areas of seabed this year.
According to the Greek-led government of Cyprus, data indicates there are oil and gas deposits between the island, Egypt to its south, and Lebanon to its east.
Regional tension could intensify if the government of the divided island proceeds with plans to drill. Turkish Cypriots in northern Cyprus strongly object to the move, saying that any natural reserves discovered belong to both sides.