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Lebanon, Cyprus Step Up Efforts On Energy Extraction

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BEIRUT - President Michel Sleiman said on Thursday that Lebanon and Cyprus will boost their efforts in oil and gas extraction after he held talks with his Cypriot counterpart Demetris Christofias in Beirut.

Sleiman said the talks gave "special attention to the oil and gas available in our maritime zones" and that quick efforts must be undertaken by the two Mediterranean countries to exploit newly found energy resources.

"We have decided to increase the frequency of coordination and cooperation to reach an agreement about the principles and mechanisms which will allow both our countries to extract this wealth," Sleiman told reporters at a joint press conference with Christofias.

He said the two countries share a "border in the exclusive economic zone" where "new oil resources were recently discovered".

Christofias said the new "discovery of hydrocarbons naturally creates great expectations for our peoples.

"We will continue our efforts and actions while fully exercising our sovereign rights. We reject tactics and approaches which recourse to threats and intimidation."

Christofias referred in his remarks to Turkish reservations on Cyprus' claims to the resources, and to Lebanon's own dispute with Israel over maritime demarcations.

Cyprus has forged ahead with its own energy search but is anxious to conclude demarcation agreements on maritime exclusive economic zones (EEZ) with its neighbors.

In the past, Cyprus has signed delineation agreements with Egypt, Israel and Lebanon to pave the way for exploiting hydrocarbon deposits that criss-cross their boundaries.

Turkey has protested strongly against the Cyprus government's offshore energy bid, branding it illegal and retaliating by starting its own exploratory drilling off the breakaway north of the island.

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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