December 3, 2019 / 1:06 PM / 5 days ago

Greece hopes talks with Turkey's Erdogan will ease maritime frictions

FILE PHOTO: Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis arrives for the second day of the European Union leaders summit dominated by Brexit, in Brussels, Belgium October 18, 2019. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw/File Photo

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece’s prime minister will meet Turkey’s president on Wednesday in an attempt to ease frictions over energy exploration and Ankara’s deal with Libya on Mediterranean maritime zones, a government spokesman said.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan are to meet on the sidelines of a NATO alliance summit in London, Greek spokesman Stelios Petsas said.

“We hope that the meeting tomorrow will be a meeting where it will be possible to pave the way for a new form of respect for international law and for the two countries’ good neighbourly relations,” he told reporters.

Libya and Turkey signed an agreement on boundaries in the Mediterranean last week that could complicate Ankara’s disputes over offshore energy exploration with nations including Greece.

Athens says the accord is geographically absurd because it ignores the presence of the Greek island of Crete between the coasts of Turkey and Libya.

Petsas said that following the announcement of the accord with Libya, Greece warned Libya’s ambassador to Athens that if he failed to provide clarifications to the Greek government over the deal he would be expelled.

Athens has already sought support from the European Union and NATO, which Petsas said “could not stand indifferent when one of its members openly violates international law.”

Erdogan has confirmed the meeting with Mitsotakis.

Reporting by Lefteris Papadimas and Renee Maltezou; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne

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