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US State Department Welcomes Greece-Turkey Exploratory Talks

US State Department
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A US State Department spokesperson on Tuesday said that the United States welcomed the restarting of the long-awaited exploratory talks between Greece and Turkey, which will begin on January 25 in Ankara.

The spokesperson said that the United States supports  “all efforts to reduce tensions” in the Eastern Mediterranean and that the US welcomes the news that the two Mediterranean nations, who have frequently been at loggerheads this past year and a half, will be in talks regarding maritime delimitation issues.

“These talks have the potential to contribute to an easing of regional tensions,” the State Department spokesperson added.

The foreign ministries of both nations announced yesterday that they would embark on the 61st round of talks regarding technical issues regarding boundaries on January 25. The talks will be held in the Turkish capital of Istanbul.

The 61st first round of what are diplomatically termed “Investigative Contacts” will take place in Istanbul on January 25, 2021.

According to diplomatic sources, the Turkish side contacted Greek officials lat on Monday and suggested that the diplomatic parleys take place in Istanbul on January 25.

Greek officials accepted the invitation, and the much-anticipated talks will take place two weeks from now. Earlier in the day, a minor brouhaha had taken place when it was noted that Turkey had not yet invited the Greek side nor informed the EU that the talks were going to take place.

Consternation earlier on Monday

“So far, the Greek Foreign Ministry has not received any invitation from the Turkish Foreign Ministry regarding the setting of a date for the 61st round of the Investigative Contacts,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexandros Papaioannou said in response to a reporter’s question today.

However, earlier in the day, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoglu said in a statement that Turkey was calling on Greece to restart its investigations within the month of January.
It is recalled that the last round of talks between the two countries, who are frequently at odds, took place in 2016 in Athens.

“Willing to respond”

“Greece, as it is known, has expressed its willingness to respond, in case of a relevant invitation of the Turkish side, to the basis of International Law with the object of delimiting the EEZ and the continental shelf,” Papaioannou stated.

During a previously-scheduled meeting with Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa, Prime Minister Mitsotakis stated that the talks are only “for the only issue we are facing, which is nothing more than the definition of maritime zones in the Aegean.”

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