US Ambassador to Cyprus Judith Garber insisted that the development of natural resources in the eastern Mediterranean "should promote cooperation" and help foster energy security and economic prosperity in the region.

US authorities have urged Turkey to halt its hydrocarbon drilling activities off the coast of Cyprus, The Cyprus Weekly reports.

According to the newspaper, the US Ambassador to Cyprus Judith Garber said that the United States is aware of the recent arrival of the Turkish drillship Yavuz to "an area that Cyprus claims as its exclusive economic zone".

"We urge the Turkish authorities to halt these operations and continue to call on all parties to avoid steps that raise tensions in the region", Garber said in an interview with Greek-language Cypriot newspaper Phileleftheros. "The United States is deeply concerned by recent reports of Turkey’s plans to drill in the waters off Cyprus. This provocative step raises tensions in the region".

The ambassador added that "resource development in the Eastern Mediterranean should promote cooperation and provide a foundation for durable energy security and economic prosperity throughout the region".

Last week, the Cypriot government slammed Turkey for the latter's alleged attempts to drill for gas in waters where Cyprus has exclusive economic rights, saying in a statement that "this new illegal 'act of piracy' constitutes a further severe violation of the sovereign rights and jurisdiction of the Republic of Cyprus, contrary to international law".