Pompeo meets with Greek foreign minister

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is meeting with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki, with talks to focus on tension in the eastern Mediterranean

Via AP news wire
Monday 28 September 2020 08:22 BST
Greece US Pompeo
Greece US Pompeo (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is meeting with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki on Monday, with talks to focus on tension in the eastern Mediterranean.

Frequently testy relations between Greece and neighboring Turkey have deteriorated sharply this year, particularly over maritime boundaries and exploration rights in the eastern Mediterranean. The dramatic escalation in tension led to fears of war between the two NATO members.

Turkey sent a research vessel, accompanied by warships, to prospect for energy resources in an area Greece claims is on its own continental shelf and where it claims exclusive economic rights. Athens sent warships of its own to the area.

European Union members are to discuss imposing sanctions on Turkey for its actions.

Pompeo discussed the issue with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg as he headed to Greece.

“Pleased to speak today with @NATO Secretary General @jensstoltenberg to discuss de-escalation of the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean and reiterate the importance of NATO Alliance unity,” Pompeo tweeted late Sunday.

Amid the tension, Greece has announced major arms purchases, including fighter jets from France, as well as warships, helicopters and weapons systems.

Pompeo is the first U.S. Secretary of State to visit Greece’s second largest city of Thessaloniki. The stop is the first leg of a five-day trip to Europe, which includes visits to Italy, the Vatican and Croatia.

Security was tight in the port city, with the venue of Pompeo's meeting with Dendias changing from the originally planned location, a local ministry, to a hotel for security reasons, authorities said. A protest against his visit was planned for Monday evening.

During his visit to Thessaloniki, Pompeo is to sign a bilateral science and technology agreement, as well as host energy sector business leaders for a discussion to highlight energy diversification and infrastructure projects in Greece. He will also join members of the city’s Jewish community to commemorate Yom Kippur.

Pompeo will depart later Monday to Crete to visit the Souda Bay naval base, and is expected to meet with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

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