Greece's Defense Minister Panos Beglitis (L) and his Cypriot counterpart Demetris Eliades

UN urges restraint in Cyprus gas dispute

The UN has urged Turkish and Greek Cypriots to find a peaceful resolution in an escalating dispute over gas exploration.

Envoy Alexander Downer said the controversy had not affected peace talks on the ethnically-split island and added that that the United Nations could consider a mediating role if both sides asked for its involvement.

"We really want these (peace) talks to succeed, we are putting our main effort into making sure these talks do succeed, and in the meantime we hope the two sides, or the various sides, will act with due restraint to ensure that in no way this issue derails these talks," said Downer, the U.N.'s special adviser on Cyprus.

Turkey has said it is exploring for gas in an offshore zone where Cyprus started drilling last week in a battle over Mediterranean oil and gas resources which risks overshadowing peace talks on the divided island. 

The island was split between Greek and Turkish Cypriots in 1974 after a Turkish invasion which followed a brief Greek inspired coup.

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