Blinken to Mitsotakis: "US-Greece relations are stronger than ever"

Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Antony Blinken January 6, 2024

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Crete shortly after 5:30 on Saturday afternoon to meet the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Blinken was received on the Greek island of Crete by Foreign Minister George Gerapetritis and the American Ambassador George Tsunis and went directly to the Prime Minister's residence in Akrotiri, Chania, where Kyriakos Mitsotakis received him.

In the short dialogue in front of the television cameras, the Prime Minister welcomed the Secretary of State of the USA, Antony Blinken, pointing out that there is a symbolism for the depth of the relations between the two countries, which are at the best point they have ever been.

Mitsotakis said before their one-on-one talks began that it is current a very difficult and challenging times, and that it is very important that Greece and the US stand by each other and strengthen bilateral relations as allies to ensure that peace and security return to the region.

For his part, the US Secretary of State thanked the Greek Prime Minister for the welcome, acknowledging the honour of receiving him at his home in Chania and underlining the importance of hospitality, saying that he completely agreed with what Mitsotakis said about bilateral relations.

Blinken also pointed out that in 30 years of doing this job, he does not remember any other period when the the relations between the US and Greece were stronger, which as he said, he had also expressed to Tsunis.

The Secretary of State attributed this to the closeness between Greeks and Americans, and the Mitsotakis government. He also highlighted that Greece and the US are united on issues like Ukraine, security and stability in the Middle East, and the war in Gaza.

Closing the brief conversation in front of the cameras, Blinken emphasised that there are many issues they will be discussed but Greece's cooperation and alliance means a lot to Washington.

See photos from the meeting:

Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Antony Blinken January 6, 2024

Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Antony Blinken January 6, 2024

Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Antony Blinken January 6, 2024

Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Antony Blinken January 6, 2024

Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Antony Blinken January 6, 2024
Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Antony Blinken January 6, 2024 Images from Proto Thema.

Earlier in the day, the head of American diplomacy had met in Istanbul with his Turkish counterpart Hakan Fidan and the president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

During the talks in Istanbul, Blinken "emphasised the need to prevent the conflict from spreading, secure the release of hostages, expand humanitarian assistance and reduce civilian casualties," State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said.

Blinken also stressed the need to work toward broader, lasting regional peace that ensures Israel's security and advances the establishment of a Palestinian state, he said.

Blinken and Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan had earlier discussed Gaza, plus Turkey's process to ratify Sweden's membership of the NATO military alliance, Turkey's foreign ministry said.

US officials have been frustrated by the length of the process, but are confident Ankara will soon approve Sweden's accession after it won the Turkish parliament's backing last month, said a senior State Department official traveling with Blinken, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Blinken later traveled to the island of Crete to meet Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Fellow NATO member Greece is awaiting US Congress approval of a sale of F-35 fighter jets.

"We'll be discussing this issue. I think there will be positive developments," Greek Foreign Minister George Gerapetritis told Skai television.

Blinken's tour will include Arab states, Israel and the occupied West Bank, where he will deliver a message that Washington does not want a regional escalation of the Gaza conflict.

The US official said Turkey has relationships with many parties in the conflict, a reference to its ties to U.S. adversary Iran and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. Unlike the U.S., Turkey does not view Hamas as a terrorist group and hosts some of its members.

The war began when Hamas fighters attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and taking 240 hostages.

Israel's retaliatory offensive has killed 22,700 Palestinians, according to Palestinian officials, and the conflict has spilled into the West Bank, Lebanon and Red Sea shipping lanes.

Blinken also hopes to make progress in talks on how Gaza could be governed if and when Israel achieves its aim of eradicating Hamas.

Washington wants countries in the region, including Turkey, to play a role in reconstruction, governance and potentially security in the Gaza Strip, which has been run by Hamas since 2007, the official said.

READ MORE: Mitsotakis in Chania: “Epiphany light sends a strong message of hope; we look to the future with optimism.”

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