The United States welcomed Monday the first round of talks between Greece and Turkey in nearly five years that are intended to resolve energy and border disputes in the eastern Mediterranean.
“The United States welcomes the resumption of exploratory talks between Greece and Turkey in Istanbul today and the commitment of both governments to this process,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Twitter. “We support all efforts to reduce tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean.”
The talks concluded earlier Monday at the Dolmabahce Office in Istanbul with Turkish diplomatic sources telling Anadolu Agency the negotiations included discussions of outstanding issues from previous negotiations, as well as the current situation, recent developments and possible steps to be taken ahead of the next round, which will be held in Athens.
On Jan. 11, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu invited Greece to resume the talks with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis accepting the invitation about a week later.
Exploratory talks between Turkey and Greece, meant to find fair and equitable settlements to issues in the Aegean, began in 2002. After the 60th round of talks in March 2016, Athens suspended the meetings.
Turkey, which has the longest continental coastline in the Eastern Mediterranean, has rejected the maritime boundary claims by Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration, stressing that they violate the sovereign rights of Turkey and Turkish Cypriots.
Ankara last year sent several drill ships to explore for energy in the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting its rights in the region, as well as those of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).
Turkish leaders have repeatedly stressed that Ankara is in favour of resolving outstanding problems in the region through international law, good neighborly relations, dialogue, and negotiations.