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ATHENS: Greece on Tuesday demanded that Turkey withdraw a research ship at the heart of their growing dispute over maritime rights and warned it would defend its sovereignty, calling for an emergency meeting of EU foreign ministers to resolve the crisis.

Tensions were stoked Monday when Ankara dispatched the research ship Oruc Reis accompanied by Turkish naval vessels off the Greek island of Kastellorizo in the eastern Mediterranean.

In a televised statement, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias urged Ankara to "immediately" remove the Oruc Reis from Greek waters.

"We call on Turkey to immediately depart from the Greek continental shelf," Dendias said. "We make it clear that Greece will defend its sovereignty."

The incident is the latest spat over energy exploration in the gas-rich eastern Mediterranean, a frequent source of disputes between Turkey and neighbours including Greece, Cyprus and Israel.

On the instructions of Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Dendias said he had asked for an emergency meeting of the European Union foreign affairs council to discuss "Turkey's growing provocation and delinquency".

A spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the situation was deeply concerning and needed to be solved through dialogue.

"Apparently the developments on the ground unfortunately show that... more needs to be done in order to defuse the tensions and reverse the very negative and unfortunate trend of escalation," spokesman Peter Stano told reporters.