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New round of Greek-Turkish talks set for March 16

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Greece and Turkey, both NATO members, will hold fresh talks in Athens next week to try to settle their standoff over eastern Mediterranean borders and energy rights, Agence France-Presse reported citing the Greek foreign ministry on Wednesday.

The ministry said the new round of talks will take place in the Greek capital on March 16, after diplomats from both sides held a round on January 25 in İstanbul.

The İstanbul meeting, which came after EU pressure, was their first direct talks in nearly five years in a long-running dispute over eastern Mediterranean borders and energy rights.

The meeting produced no breakthrough except for an agreement for the talks to continue in Athens at an undisclosed date.

Athens and Ankara held 60 rounds of talks between 2002 and 2016 without resolving the dispute that has lingered for much of the past century and nearly led to war in 1996.

Hostilities flared anew last year when Ankara sent a research ship accompanied by a navy flotilla into waters near the Turkish coast that Greece claims, with EU support.

Turkey is furious that Greece is using its web of islands to lay claim to huge swathes of the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas.

Both sides cite a range of decades-old treaties and international agreements to support their conflicting claims.

The İstanbul meeting came during a sudden spurt in diplomatic contacts aimed at thawing an ever deeper chill in relations that have frozen EU accession talks Turkey began in 2005.

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