Continued from page 2

ANKARA — Turkey is using its navy and air force to escort a ship conducting oil and gas exploration off Cyprus, an official said Tuesday, in the latest development in a disagreement over the ownership of the disputed island nation’s natural resources.

Cyprus is divided into a Greek Cypriot south and a breakaway Turkish Cypriot north.

The southern government began exploratory drilling for oil and gas last week, prompting strong protests from Turkey, which doesn’t recognize the Greek Cypriot administration.

In response, Turkey signed an oil and gas exploration deal with the Turkish Cypriots and sent a Turkish research ship to the Mediterranean to start exploration. The breakaway Turkish Cypriot state is only recognized by Turkey.

The Turkish research ship, Koca Piri Reis, began its exploration Monday, but Turkish and Turkish Cypriot officials refused to reveal the ship’s exact location.

Cyprus licensed U.S.-based Noble Energy Inc. to search for oil and gas near recently discovered Israeli offshore fields that contain more than 15.9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.