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EU slaps sanctions on Turkey over gas drilling off Cyprus

European Union foreign ministers have approved initial sanctions against Turkey over its drilling for gas in waters where EU member Cyprus has exclusive economic rights.

The ministers said in a statement on Monday night that in light of Turkey's "continued and new illegal drilling activities," they were suspending talks on an air transport agreement and would call on the European Investment Bank to "review" it's lending to the country.

They also warned that the EU's executive branch was working on additional "targeted measures" to penalize Turkey, which started negotiations to join the EU in 2005.

In this Tuesday, July 9, 2019 photo, a helicopter flies over Turkey's drilling ship, 'Fatih' dispatched towards the eastern Mediterranean, near Cyprus. Turkish officials say the drillships Fatih and Yavuz will drill for gas, which has prompted protests from Cyprus. (Turkish Defence Ministry via AP, Pool)

Two Turkish vessels escorted by warships are drilling for gas on either end of ethnically divided Cyprus. The EU previously said the drilling breached Cyprus' sovereignty and international law.

FILE - In this Tuesday, July 9, 2019 file photo, a Turkish Navy warship patrols near Turkey's drilling ship ' Fatih ' that is making its way towards the eastern Mediterranean near Cyprus. Turkish officials say the drillships Fatih and Yavuz will drill for gas, which has prompted protests from Cyprus. (Turkish Defence Ministry via AP, Pool)

FILE-In this Thursday, June 20, 2019 file photo, a Turkish police officer patrols the dock, backdropped by the drilling ship 'Yavuz' that was dispatched to the Mediterranean, at the port of Dilovasi, outside Istanbul. The Turkish Foreign Ministry said Wednesday, July 10, 2019 it rejects the European Union's statements condemning its efforts to drill for gas in waters off the coast of Cyprus and says the EU cannot be considered an impartial mediator for the divided island. Cyprus says Turkey is encroaching in waters where the country has exclusive economic rights while the European Union warned Turkey of sanctions. (AP PhotoLefteris Pitarakis, File)

FILE-In this Thursday, June 20, 2019 file photo, Turkey's 230-meter (750-foot) drillship 'Yavuz' escorted by a Turkish Navy vessel, crosses the Marmara Sea on its way to the Mediterranean, from the port of Dilovasi, outside Istanbul. The Turkish Foreign Ministry said Wednesday, July 10, 2019 it rejects the European Union's statements condemning its efforts to drill for gas in waters off the coast of Cyprus and says the EU cannot be considered an impartial mediator for the divided island. Cyprus says Turkey is encroaching in waters where the country has exclusive economic rights while the European Union warned Turkey of sanctions. (AP PhotoLefteris Pitarakis, File)