Greece enters talks with Turkey to calm eastern Mediterranean dispute

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

By Associated Press Reporter

Greece says it has resumed high-level political contacts with neighbouring Turkey to try to de-escalate a dispute over offshore energy rights in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

Stelios Petsas, the Greek government spokesman, said on Thursday that direct contact has restarted after Turkey pulled back a warship-escorted survey vessel at the weekend from an area where Greece claims exclusive rights to potential undersea gas or oil deposits.

The discussions, Mr Petsas said, are taking place between aides to Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Allies of the two Nato members have warned the standoff and rival military build-ups in the area between Greek islands, Turkey’s southern coast and Cyprus have increased the risk of a confrontation.

The European Union is due to consider a list of potential sanctions against Turkey next week.

EU officials say the dispute can only be resolved through negotiations.

Mr Petsas said direct communication between Mr Mitsotakis and Mr Erdogan is possible ahead of the September 24-25 EU meetings.

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