US energy official sees 'great promise' in eastern Med

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — A U.S. State Department official says Washington sees "great promise" in developing energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean as ExxonMobil began exploratory drilling off Cyprus' southwestern coast.

Francis Fannon, the Assistant Secretary of State responsible for energy matters, says Washington sees existing and potential gas deposits in the east Mediterranean as a catalyst for regional cooperation and economic development.

He said the U.S. will continue advancing energy development in the region as a priority and repeated support for Cyprus' own hydrocarbons search.

Turkey strongly objects to exploratory drilling off Cyprus because it claims it infringes its own rights and those of breakaway Turkish Cypriots to the ethnically split island nation's natural resources.

Fannon was in Cyprus Friday as part of a three-nation visit that includes Israel and Egypt.