UPDATES WITH MORE REMARKS FROM POMPEO, MITSOTAKIS, ADDS BACKGROUND
By Rabia Iclal Turan
ANKARA (AA) - Washington “strongly” supports dialogue between NATO allies of Turkey and Greece, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday during his two-day visit to Greece.
Speaking at a news conference with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in Souda Bay, the US naval base on the island of Crete, Pompeo encouraged the two countries to resume NATO-sponsored talks as soon as possible.
“I spoke with [NATO] Secretary General Stoltenberg just two days ago on the progress being made in NATO,” Pompeo said, “And we hope that these talks can continue in a serious way.”
Meanwhile, Mitsotakis criticized Turkey’s activities in the region, but said he is optimistic that “the time for diplomacy has arrived.”
Turkish and Greek military delegations will hold the sixth round of technical talks Tuesday afternoon at NATO headquarters in Brussels to discuss the Eastern Mediterranean, according to the Turkish National Defense Ministry.
The talks, aimed at reducing the risk of an incident amid rising tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean, were planned after a phone call between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
The first round of talks was held on Sept. 10.
Pompeo also said: “The US also believes deeply, the development of the Eastern Mediterranean should promote cooperation and provide a foundation for the durable energy security and economic prosperity of the entire region.”
“Our security cooperation today is especially important as Russia continues to destabilize the region, especially in Libya, where the US calls for the withdrawal of all foreign military forces and support for military de-escalation, and for Libyan reconciliation,” he added.
Top US diplomat met with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias on Monday, and discussed energy cooperation and recent tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean.
“I reiterated the US support for gracious ongoing efforts to diversify energy routes and supplies throughout the region, free markets should make the decision about energy supplies, instead of Russia’s Gazprom,” Pompeo said.
- Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict
The US’s top diplomat also said he addressed the heightened tension between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the Upper Karabakh dispute with his Greek counterpart.
“Both sides must stop the violence and work with the Minsk Group to return to substantive negotiations as quickly as possible,” he urged.
Pompeo arrived in the Greek city of Thessaloniki early Monday for a second visit in less than a year, starting a four-nation tour of Europe.
Following his stopover in Greece, Pompeo will visit Italy, Vatican and Croatia.