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Amid Iranian Tanker Tension, Greece Wants Extended US Defense Deal

August 23, 2019

ATHENS – With tension on the high seas as the United States warned Greece not to let a sanctioned Iranian tanker dock or offload its oil to another vessel, Greece wants to extend a defense agreement with Washington, also known as the Souda Agreement, by a year.

That would be done when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visits in the autumn, said Kathimerini, the details coming out after a meeting in Greece’s capital between Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and US House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey.

Also discussed was the likelihood of a meeting between the newly-elected Mitsotakis and US President Donald Trump in September on the sidelines of the annual opening of the United Nations General Assembly.

Lowey also met with Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias and his deputy Antonis Diamataris for talks that reportedly focused on areas of the US-Greece Strategic Dialogue and efforts to promote common interests in the Eastern Mediterranean region.

In a tweet, US Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt, who was at both meetings, said the discussion with Dendias focused on “progress in all areas of the US-Greece Strategic Dialogue and the commitment of both our governments to do even more to promote common interests in the EastMed and strengthen Greece as regional pillar of stability.”

Greece wants to tighten relations with the US after the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA leader and then-Premier Alexis Tsipras changed his anti-American tune to embrace the idea of a greater US military presence in the country after saying he would end it.

With Turkey ratcheting up anxiety in the Aegean and East Mediterranean and its relations worsening with the US, Greece is eager to keep the Americans as close allies with fears of a conflict sporadically being raised and Turkey buying a Russian S-400 missile defense system.

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