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Kotzias – Pompeo talk Cyprus, Turkey, two Greek soldiers in custody

Greek Foreign Minister, Nikos Kotzias, met with US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo at the Department of Sate in Washington on Monday. Regional issues, especially those in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East, Cyprus, Turkey were high on the agenda, while also the issue of two Greek soldiers in Turkish custody was raised.

Speaking to Greek reporters after the meeting, Kotzias said they discussed regional problems, especially those in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East, Cyprus and Turkey.

“I underscored the need to ensure the region’s security and stability, and I referred in more detail to Turkey’s conduct and the need to support the international rights of the Republic of Cyprus: that Cyprus must not be seen simply as a ‘problem’ for the UN, but as a sovereign state with specific roles and capabilities in the region,” Kotzias said.

Stressing that he did not discussed the Macedonia name issue with Pompeo but with Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Wess Mitchell, Kotzias said the US administration does not put pressure on Greece to close the issue in a given time.

“No one is urging us in any particular direction, because Greece has the initiative on this issue, and everyone is watching, in a positive way, how a country with a proactive foreign policy promotes solutions,” the Greek Foreign Minister underlined.

He added that the the two sides discussed also about the issue of the two Greek soldiers in Turkish custody, now in the 83rd day without raised charges.

“We were asked, and we said that it is unacceptable for a NATO member state to be holding two officers of the Greek Army. But, as you know, Turkey is also holding a number of U.S. citizens in its prisons as well,” Kotzias said.

The US administration has reservations about the sale of [Russian] military equipment to Turkey, he added.

According to a statement by the State Department:

“Secretary Pompeo and Foreign Minister Kotzias discussed the excellent state of bilateral relations and agreed to establish a U.S.-Greek Strategic Dialogue on key areas of cooperation. The Secretary commended Greece for its leadership role in the region, including efforts to address challenges in the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean. The Secretary also offered continued support for Greece’s economic recovery and underscored the importance the United States places on its role as the honored country at the 2018 Thessaloniki International Fair. The two agreed to remain in close communication on these and other bilateral, regional, and global issues of mutual interest, and to work closely together in coming days to ensure stability of the Eastern Mediterranean.”

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