Greek defense minister invites Turkish counterpart to visit as 2 soldiers arrive home

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Greek Lieutenant Aggelos Mitretodis (3rdL) and Sergeant Dimitros Kouklatzis (3rdR) pose with their parents after arriving at the airport of Thessaloniki on August 15, 2018. A Turkish court on August 14, 2018 ordered the release of the two Greek soldiers detained since March on espionage charges for illegally crossing the border in a case that has stoked tensions between Athens and Ankara. / AFP PHOTO / Sakis MITROLIDIS

Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos on Wednesday invited his Turkish counterpart, Hulusi Akar, to visit Greece following the release of two Greek soldiers pending trial on Tuesday, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

The Greek ministry said in a statement that Kammenos spoke over the phone with Akar after two Greek soldiers — Lt. Aggelos Mitretodis and Sgt. Dimitros Kouklatzis — were released by a court in northwestern Edirne province.

“He expressed his appreciation over the release of the two Greek soldiers and invited him [Akar] for an official visit to Greece,” said the statement.

The two soldiers were detained in March by Turkish border guards near the Pazarkule district of Edirne. Greece said the soldiers crossed into Turkey by mistake while following the trail of suspected illegal migrants. The Turkish court ordered their arrest on suspicion of illegal entry and attempted military espionage.

Lt. Mitretodis and Sgt. Kouklatzis on Tuesday landed in Greece after a court ordered their release.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Tuesday the release of two Greek soldiers in custody by Turkey was an “act of justice” that would help foster closer relations between the two neighbors, who are frequently at odds.

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