Pompeo speaks with NATO chief about Mediterranean tensions

International

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivers remarks during a speaking appearance with state Republican legislators in the Senate chamber of the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison, Wis. Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020. (John Hart/Wisconsin State Journal via AP)

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is due to arrive in Greece on an official visit early Monday, has had a conversation on tensions in the eastern Mediterranean with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

“Pleased to speak today with @NATO Secretary General @jensstoltenberg to discuss de-escalation of the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean and reiterate the importance of NATO Alliance unity,” Pompeo tweeted while en route to Greece.

Relations between NATO members Greece and Turkey, always tense, have further deteriorated this year over long-standing disputes, including maritime boundaries and energy rights. France has been vocal in its support for Greece and the latter’s call for European Union sanctions.

Pompeo is due to arrive in Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-largest city, shortly after midnight Sunday on the first leg of a five-day trip to Europe, which includes visits to Italy, the Vatican and Croatia. This is is the first visit by a U.S. secretary of state to Thessaloniki.

According to State Department background briefings, Pompeo will meet with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias to renew the two countries’ shared commitment to advance security, peace, and prosperity in the eastern Mediterranean and celebrate the strongest U.S.-Greek relationship in decades.

On Monday, Pompeo will meet with Dendias, sign a bilateral science and technology agreement, as well as host energy sector business leaders for a discussion to highlight energy diversification and infrastructure projects in Greece. He will also join members of the city’s Jewish community to commemorate Yom Kippur.

Pompeo will depart later Monday to visit the NATO Souda Bay naval base. He will tour the facilities Tuesday and have lunch with Mitsotakis at the latter’s nearby residence. The two will issue a joint statement.

The U.S. secretary of state will depart Greece early Wednesday for Rome.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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