Greece pleads with Turkey to avert war in the Mediterranean

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias appealed to Turkey to help reduce simmering tensions in the eastern Mediterranean and avert the threat of war.

European Union foreign ministers and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met in Vienna, Austria on Friday to discuss a number of crises including the rising tensions in the Mediterranean.

Athens and Ankara are locked in a years-long dispute over rights to the resource-rich waters of the eastern Mediterranean but the situation has escalated in recent days, with naval manoeuvres bringing rival forces into close proximity.

"I hope there will be no conflict if everybody keeps his mind and everybody acts according to international law, international law of the sea," US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters.

Map shows competing maritime borders according to agreements made by Athens and Cairo, Tripoli and Ankara

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 came as a minor collision between a Greek and Turkish warship was made public. A Greek defence source called it an accident, but Turkey described it as a provocation.

At the heart of the disagreement are areas in the eastern Mediterranean Sea that border the many Greek islands in the region.

Turkey’s claims to the waters, which it says are on its continental shelf, have repeatedly been dismissed as illegal by Greece and its allies.

"Everything can be resolved, but this is a question that you have to put to the Turks," Mr 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 Mr 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.

Updated: August 14, 2020 10:57 PM

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