Interview: Turkish Cypriot leader: gas may fund peace deal

The leader of Cyprus' breakaway Turkish Cypriot community says the ethnically divided island's potential wealth from newly found offshore gas reserves could be used to partly fund a costly reunification deal.

Mustafa Akinci told The Associated Press in an interview Monday that a peace accord may cost more than initial estimates. He said gas could boost energy cooperation and foster peace in a tumultuous region, but warned unilateral drilling by Greek Cypriots could re-ignite tensions.

Akinci said "we are closer than ever before" to a peace deal, but the pace of negotiations has slowed down because of parliamentary elections in the internationally recognized Greek Cypriot south next month.

He said Turkish Cypriots should remain a majority in the area that they will administer within an envisioned two-zone federation.