Cyprus: no reunification talks while Turkey blocks oil rig

A Cypriot official says that talks to reunify the ethnically split island cannot resume as long as Turkey obstructs an offshore hydrocarbon search.

Turkish warships have been preventing a rig from carrying out exploratory drilling off Cyprus on behalf of Italian company Eni for almost a week, citing military maneuvers.

Cypriot government spokesman Nikos Christodoulides says the country's president is ready to relaunch peace talks if Turkey's stops its blockade. Christodoulides was speaking Thursday after United Nations Peacekeeping Force Chief Elizabeth Spehar met with Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades.

The spokesman said Anastasiades told the UN official to convey his readiness for a resumption of talks to breakaway Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci as long as "we no longer see such behavior" in areas where Cyprus has issued drilling licenses.