US asks Ankara for steps to ease Aegean ten­sion

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Amer­i­can of­fi­cials have urged Ankara to re­frain from ac­tion that would fur­ther es­ca­late ten­sion with fel­low NATO mem­ber Greece in the Aegean Sea, Kathimerini un­der­stands, adding that the is­sue was raised dur­ing the Mu­nich Se­cu­rity Con­fer­ence last month, as well as dur­ing pri­vate con­tacts in Ankara.

Sources told Kathimerini that US Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son raised the topic with Turk­ish For­eign Min­is­ter Mev­lut Cavu­soglu on the side­lines of the Mu­nich gath­er­ing last month. As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary of State John Hef­fern re­port­edly asked Turk­ish of­fi­cials for steps that will help re­duce the re­cent spike in ten­sions with Greece.

A few days later, the same sources said, US Am­bas­sador to Ankara John Bass met with Tur­key’s For­eign Min­istry Un­der­sec­re­tary Umit Yal­cin to put pres­sure in the same di­rec­tion.

Yal­cin is said to have at­trib­uted the stand­off­ish be­hav­ior of the Turk­ish mil­i­tary to the army’s dam­aged morale by de­vel­op­ments fol­low­ing July’s failed coup at­tempt. An­a­lysts how­ever say that any au­ton­omy of the Turk­ish armed forces has been heav­ily com­pro­mised in the wake of the coup.

Greek For­eign Min­is­ter Nikos Kotzias is ex­pected to travel to Wash­ing­ton for a meet­ing with Tiller­son in the com­ing days. Talks are to be fol­lowed by a tele­phone con­ver­sa­tion be­tween Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras and US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

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