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US says not the time for NATO allies Turkey and Greece to raise tensions between them

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Amid rising tensions between neighboring NATO allies Turkey and Greece on a wide range of issues, the US State Department said that at a time when Russia has invaded Ukraine, NATO allies should avoid statements or actions that could escalate tensions.

Greece and Turkey have feuded for years over maritime borders and energy exploration rights in the Aegean and east Mediterranean seas.

The latest escalation started when Turkish security sources shared aerial images over the weekend purportedly showing ships loaded with US armored vehicles docking at the Greek islands of Lesbos and Samos.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry on Monday summoned the Greek ambassador and also protested to the US Embassy after accusing Greece of deploying US armored vehicles on the two Aegean islands near the Turkish coast.

When asked about the rising tensions between Turkey and Greece and whether the US is concerned, US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said at a press briefing on Monday that “… at a time when Russia has once again invaded a sovereign state and the transatlantic community and the international community is standing with the people of Ukraine and against Russian aggression, now is not the time for statements or any actions that could raise tensions between NATO Allies. “

He said the United States continues to encourage its NATO allies to work together to maintain peace and security in the region and to resolve any differences they may have diplomatically.

To another question asking the US position on the Turkey-Greece tension, Price said, “We think we should remain focused on what is a collective threat to all of us, and that’s Russia’s aggression.”

The Turkish Foreign Ministry told the Greek ambassador that Athens should “stop violations” and respect the non-military status the islands were assigned by treaty, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Anadolu reported on Monday that Turkey told Washington in a note to the US Embassy in Ankara that its “weapons should not be used in breach” of the islands’ agreed status.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan separately accused Greece of staging “provocations” and playing “perilous games.”

Erdoğan has repeatedly accused Greece of “occupying” the Aegean islands, whose status was settled in treaties adopted after World War I.

In response, Athens accuses Turkey of conducting hundreds of illegal military sorties over the islands.

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