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Turkey is still open to unconditional talks with Greece, even after ‘biased statement’ by 7 EU Mediterranean states – Ankara

Turkey is still open to unconditional talks with Greece, even after ‘biased statement’ by 7 EU Mediterranean states – Ankara
The Turkish Foreign Ministry has said the comments by EU states defending Greece are “detached from reality,” but it added that Ankara is open to discussing Mediterranean issues with Athens.

NATO member states Turkey and Greece have overlapping claims to continental shelves and rights to potential energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean. The seven EU Mediterranean states, which held a summit on Thursday, warned that the bloc will draw up a list of new sanctions on Turkey at the end of September unless Ankara negotiates to resolve the dispute with Greece and Cyprus.

Greece needs to “unconditionally sit at the negotiating table with Turkey” in order to achieve dialogue and cooperation in the region, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said on Friday. He also added that Athens needs to withdraw its military ships from around Turkey’s Oruc Reis survey vessel in order to de-escalate tensions.

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The Defense Ministry in Ankara said earlier that a technical meeting between Turkish and Greek military delegations took place at NATO Headquarters. They discussed measures aimed at preventing possible military engagement in the eastern Mediterranean, according to the ministry.

However, Athens denied it attended the technical talks with a Turkish military delegation. Diplomatic sources in Athens were quoted by ANA news agency on Thursday as saying that the Greek delegation did not “exchange views” with Turkish authorities. “There was no dialogue with the Turkish officers,” the sources said, adding that the statements on the meeting was a “part of Turkey’s ongoing effort to present an unrealistic picture in order to avoid potential sanctions.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday he would visit Cyprus to seek a peaceful solution to mounting Mediterranean tensions, as he called on Turkey to pull back its forces. He will hold talks in Cyprus on Saturday after a trip to Doha, where he will help inaugurate talks between Afghanistan’s government and the Taliban.

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