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Politics

US Defense Chief Will Talk to Turkey About Tensions with Greece

WASHINGTON – After meeting Greek Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos in Washington, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin agreed to talk with Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar about disputes between Greece and Turkey.

Austin noted he would be speaking by phone with Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar in the coming days. He urged that both sides explore “pragmatic solutions to long-standing disputes,” indicating no US intervention.

That was a snippet from their discussions with the US defense chief taking a diplomatic line to be careful not to upset either country although he thanked Greece for constantly exceeding its NATO defense spending.

Greek Minister of Defense Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos, left, meets with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, right, at the Pentagon, Monday, July 18, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

But the US also is trying to keep good relations with Turkey, which bought Russian-made S-400 missile defense systems that undermine the defense alliance and could be used against Greece in a conflict.

Akar is pushing for the US to sell Turkey more F-16 fighter jets at the same time Turkey continues to violate Greek airspace, and Turkey also wants US-made F-35’s that were barred after buying the Russian systems.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who in an address to the US Congress asked lawmakers to vote down President Joe Biden’s plan to sell Turkey the F-16s and modernize the Turkish Air Force, renewed a military cooperation deal with the US that will see a greater American presence in Greece.

Mitsotakis’ New Democracy government, which is buying French-made Rafale fighter jets and warships and wants more American ships and jets also wants to acquire the F-35’s.

Austin said, “A new milestone of this strategic partnership is without doubt the procurement of the state-of-the-art F-35 fighter, a major step for our deterrence and even closer interaction, coordination and interoperability between the armed force of Greece and the United States,” reported ANA.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, right, greets Greek Minister of Defense Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos during an arrival ceremony at the Pentagon, Monday, July 18, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, right, stands with Greek Minister of Defense Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos during an arrival ceremony at the Pentagon, Monday, July 18, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, right, stands with Greek Minister of Defense Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos during an arrival ceremony at the Pentagon, Monday, July 18, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin takes his seat for a meeting with Greek Minister of Defense Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos at the Pentagon, Monday, July 18, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Cookies with flags on them are seen on the table during a meeting with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Greek Minister of Defense Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos at the Pentagon, Monday, July 18, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
The countries’ flags are seen on the table during a meeting with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Greek Minister of Defense Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos at the Pentagon, Monday, July 18, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

 

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