Turkey extends controversial Mediterranean gas exploration

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey announced late Saturday that it is extending by one week a gas exploration mission in the eastern Mediterranean that has caused tensions with Greece.

In a fresh notice to shipping in the area, Turkey said the Oruc Reis seismic survey vessel, accompanied by two support ships, will operate in the area south of the Greek island of Rhodes until Nov. 4. An earlier notice had said the ships would be operating in the area until Tuesday, Oct. 27.

Ankara had dispatched the Oruc Reis along with several warships in August to waters also claimed by Greece and Cyprus, sparking a dispute that threatened a military confrontation between the NATO allies. The mission drew condemnation from the European Union.

The vessel was withdrawn for maintenance earlier this month as a diplomatic solution was sought, but it was later redeployed to the region with two support supply ships.

Turkey in the past has dispatched exploratory missions for oil and gas reserves in waters that Cyprus claims as its own.