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Greece, Egypt want Biden to play 'decisive role' in Turkey maritime dispute

Athens and Cairo say they look forward to Biden administration being more active in eastern Mediterranean dispute
A Biden foreign policy adviser said the new administration could seek closer cooperation with European countries regarding Turkey.
Biden foreign-policy adviser said new administration may seek closer cooperation with European countries regarding Turkey (AFP/File photo)

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis says he expects US President-elect Joe Biden's incoming administration to play a "more decisive role" in calming tensions with Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean.

"We have every reason to welcome, along with all our partners in the region, the return of the United States to its central role as a leader of Nato," he said on Wednesday after a meeting in Athens with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

"I believe that Greece and Egypt will welcome and have a positive attitude toward the determination of America's contribution to the events of the Middle East and eastern Mediterranean in our troubled region," Mitsotakis added.

Greece and Egypt are at odds with Turkey over a maritime boundary dispute in the eastern Mediterranean, concerning rights to search for and exploit natural gas deposits.

In August, Greece and Egypt signed a deal partially demarcating the two countries' maritime boundaries and setting out respective exclusive economic zones for the exploitation of resources that include under-sea oil and gas.

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The agreement angered Turkey, which accused Greece of trying to grab an unfair share of resources in the eastern Mediterranean.

The divisions outlined in the deal overlapped with maritime zones Turkey had set with Libya last year, which were declared illegal by Athens.

Greece, Cyprus and Egypt all slammed the deal between Ankara and Tripoli, saying it infringed on their economic rights.

The European Union and the US have both criticised Turkey's ongoing maritime research missions in those waters.

Also on Wednesday, the Greek Foreign Ministry condemned Turkey's decision to extend the work of a research vessel, the Oruc Reiss, in a contested area until 23 November.

"Greece reiterates its condemnation of this provocative conduct, which further undermines any prospect of a constructive dialogue, and calls on Turkey to immediately retract its illegal Navtex."

Michael Carpenter, a foreign-policy adviser to Biden, said the incoming administration may seek closer cooperation with France, Germany and other European countries in its policy concerning Turkey.

"I do think and I am hopeful that when President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan sees a united front, that suggests that there is room for cooperation, but also that there are very negative consequences to pursuing a more aggressive policy, then he will have a rethink," Carpenter said during remarks delivered via video-link at a diplomatic conference organised in Greece.

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