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Pompeo Visits Naval Base On Crete On Day 2 Of Regional Tour

Protesters take part in a rally against the visit of the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Greece, in the northern city of Thessaloniki, on Monday, Sept. 28, 2020. Pompeo said Monday that Washington will use its diplomatic and military influence in the region to try to ease a volatile dispute between NATO allies Greece and Turkey over energy rights in the eastern Mediterranean. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)

Protesters take part in a rally against the visit of the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Greece, in the northern city of Thessaloniki, on Monday, Sept. 28, 2020. Pompeo said Monday that Washington will use its diplomatic and military influence in the region to try to ease a volatile dispute between NATO allies Greece and Turkey over energy rights in the eastern Mediterranean. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited a U.S. naval base at Souda Bay on the southern Greek island of Crete Tuesday, ahead of a meeting with Greece's prime minister on the second day of his trip to the country.

ATHENS, Greece: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed support Tuesday for talks between Greece and Turkey, NATO allies whose relations have deteriorated sharply to the point where both had warships facing off in the Mediterranean.

Speaking from the Souda Bay military base on the island of Crete, on the second day of a five-day regional tour, Pompeo said relations between the United States and Greece are at an all time high and getting stronger.

Today Im in Crete to showcase one of Americas strongest military relationships throughout all of Europe, Pompeo said. We, the Americans, look to Greece as a true pillar for stability and prosperity in the eastern Mediterranean, and we’re incredibly proud to support its leadership.”

Greece has been looking to the U.S. and the European Union for support in its dispute with neighboring Turkey, which it accuses of encroaching on its sovereign rights in the eastern Mediterranean.

Last month 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, and put its armed forces on alert. The dispute has led to fears of open conflict.

EU leaders are to discuss potentially imposing sanctions on Turkey for its actions later this week.

But tension has eased somewhat recently, with Athens and Ankara announcing they will restart an ongoing process of exploratory talks. Technical discussions on a military level have also been taking place at NATO for the avoidance of a military accident, such as the collision in August of warships from the two sides, which reportedly caused minor damage to a Turkish frigate and no injuries on either side.

We strongly support dialogue between NATO allies Greece and Turkey and encourage them to resume discussion of these issues as soon as possible, Pompeo said in brief statements after meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

I spoke with (NATO) Secretary-General (Jens) Stoltenberg just two days ago on the progress being made at NATO. And we hope that these talks can continue in a serious way.

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

In the Mediterranean, there should be no waves caused by threats and rivalry. It is a sea of strategic importance, also for the United States,” Mitsotakis said.

“It is also a key region for global stability. I was pleased to see that Mr. Pompeo shares our positions, understanding that tension between two members of NATO ultimately is not in anyones interest, he added.

The two did not take any questions from the media after their brief remarks.

Last October, Pompeo visited Athens and signed a revised defense cooperation agreement with Greece that provided for increasing joint U.S.-Greece and NATO activity at three locations in Greece as well as infrastructure and other improvements at Souda Bay.

Pompeo said security cooperation with Greece is especially important as Russia continues to destabilize the region, especially in Libya, where the U.S. calls for the withdrawal of all foreign military forces and support for military de-escalation and for Libyan reconciliation.

He said he and Mitsotakis also agreed to explore closer cooperation to overcome challenges that Russia poses.” He referred to malign influence activities such as spreading disinformation on the coronavirus pandemic and trying to involve the Orthodox Church.

Pompeo began his five-day regional tour in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki, where he met with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias. His five-day regional tour will include visits to Italy, the Vatican and Croatia.

Disclaimer: This post has been auto-published from an agency feed without any modifications to the text and has not been reviewed by an editor


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