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Pompeo confirms to Dendias that East Mediterranean issue should be resolved with international law

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met today in Thessaloniki to carry out a review of the U.S.-Greece Strategic Dialogue in the lead up to the third Strategic Dialogue to be held in Washington next year.

On Twitter, Pompeo wrote:

“Always fantastic to see Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias. Today in Thessaloniki, we discussed the enduring strength of the U.S.-Greece relationship, the Western Balkans, and de-escalation of tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean.”

The Greek Foreign Ministry released a joint statement with the US that confirmed that the two countries “shared views on the Eastern Mediterranean and reaffirmed their belief that maritime delimitation issues should be resolved peacefully in accordance with international law.”

“In this regard, the United States welcomed Greece’s confirmed readiness to engage with other countries in the region to achieve maritime delimitation agreements through dialogue and in accordance with international law.  The United States and Greece also reiterated their dedication to enhancing their close cooperation as NATO Allies, using all appropriate means at their disposal, in order to safeguard stability and security in the wider region,” the joint statement said.

“The two sides reiterated their desire to continue and strengthen their cooperation in various sectors in the framework of the 3+1 format (Cyprus, Greece, Israel, and the United States), which was launched in Jerusalem in March 2019, as this partnership can contribute to the promotion of peace, stability, security, and prosperity in the Eastern Mediterranean and the wider region.  The United States and Greece reiterate their support for the integration of all the countries of the Western Balkans into European and transatlantic institutions according to the choice of their citizens.  They highlighted Greece’s efforts to this end, noting the continued relevance of the historic Prespes Agreement and North Macedonia’s subsequent accession to NATO, while underscoring the importance of its consistent implementation in good faith,” the statement added.

The joint statement also revealed that the two countries intend to “enhance their strategic defense and security partnership by expanding and deepening the U.S.-Greece Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement, which was last updated in October 2019 and greatly contributes to the security of both nations.”

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, both Greece and the US continue their cooperation on matters of terrorism, transnational crime, and other threats, the statement said.

“Moreover, the two countries took stock of continued improvement in border security and counterterrorism information sharing and collaboration according to international standards,” according to the joint statement.

In regards to technology and trade, the joint statement said “the two governments look forward to increasing cooperation on trade.  The United States and Greece attach great importance on the cooperation on artificial intelligence, cyber security, 5G, and privatization of strategic infrastructure.”

“The United States and Greece welcomed the completion of the Greek section of the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline and looked forward to discussing at the coming Strategic Dialogue their mutual support for the Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria, the floating storage regasification unit project at Alexandroupoli, the privatization of the Kavala underground gas storage, the Interconnection Greece – North Macedonia project, and  other commercially viable projects, which could include the EastMed Gas Pipeline,” the statement continued.

The US then confirmed its support for the EastMed Gas Forum, which comprises of Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jordan, and Palestine.

“Both sides welcomed the September 22 formal establishment of the EastMed Gas Forum as a regional organization and the ongoing successful cooperation on energy through the 3+1 process.  Greece and the United States underlined the participation of ExxonMobil in partnership with Total and Hellenic Petroleum in offshore exploration blocks off the coast of Crete, as well the potential opportunities for U.S. investment in the renewable energy sector, with the recently ratified Greek Law ‘Modernization of Environmental Legislation’,” the statement said.

The final part of the joint statement was about the “people-to-people” ties between Greece and the U.S.

“They look forward to marking Greece’s independence bicentennial in 2021, as well as exchanging exhibitions and cooperation between museums,” the statement said, adding that “the United States and Greece reaffirmed their intent to strengthen links between U.S. and Greek universities and create new joint, dual-degree, and study abroad programs.”

“Both countries will continue to support ongoing educational and academic exchanges, including the Fulbright Program in Greece, which marked its 72nd anniversary in 2020.  The United States and Greece agreed to continue their longstanding cooperation to protect Greece’s cultural property.  Both countries also agreed to cooperate on capacity building within the creative industries, including in the film sector.  The United States and Greece also agreed to explore public-private partnerships in culture and technology,” the statement concluded.

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