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Greek foreign minister hopes to avoid conflict in eastern Mediterranean

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said on Friday he hoped that all parties involved in a dispute in the eastern Mediterranean will act according to international law and that there will be no conflict.

“I hope there will be no conflict if everybody keeps his mind and everybody acts according to international law, international law of the sea,” he told reporters after discussing Greece’s dispute with Turkey over energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean with US State Secretary Mike Pompeo in Vienna.

The US State Department said in a statement that the two ministers discussed “the urgent need to reduce tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean” without providing more detail.

The meeting comes on the day it emerged that a Greek and a Turkish warship were involved in a minor collision on Wednesday. A Greek defence source called it an accident, but Ankara described it as a provocation.

The two Nato allies are at odds over overlapping claims for hydrocarbon resources in the region.

“Everything can be resolved, but this is a question that you have to put to the Turks,” Dendias said.

Tensions have risen this week after Turkey sent a survey vessel to the region, escorted by warships, to map out sea territory for possible oil and gas drilling in an area where Turkey and Greece both claim jurisdiction.

Asked whether he agreed with Pompeo on what to do about the issue, the Greek minister said the meeting was “cordial” and the two had “an open explanation of what’s happening”.

European Union foreign ministers, who have already imposed sanctions on two Turkish energy executives over Turkey’s operations in the eastern Mediterranean, were also scheduled to discuss the situation on Friday.


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