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Turkish, Greek leaders plan to meet at UN General Assembly: report

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis are planning to meet on the sidelines of the United Nations general assembly in New York this September, Bloomberg reported.

The two countries’ foreign ministers will meet on Sept. 5 in Turkey to prepare a potential meeting of the two leaders, Greek government spokesman Pavlos Marinakis said Monday.

The ministers will also discuss the upcoming Greek-Turkish High-Level Cooperation Council that will meet in Thessaloniki in the coming months, Marinakis said.

Erdoğan and Mitsotakis said in a statement issued by both their offices last month that they “agreed that it is to the benefit of both countries that the positive climate formed in bilateral relations over recent months has continuity and consistency.”

“To this end, the two sides agreed to build on the positive momentum and activate multiple channels of communication between the two countries in the coming period,” the statement said.

Erdoğan and Mitsotakis, who were re-elected in May and June, respectively, had a one-hour meeting on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, at the beginning of July.

“We are cautiously optimistic that we can start on a new page,” Mitsotakis told reporters after the meeting.

“With mutual gestures of goodwill, we can defuse possible sources of future tension,” he said.

Mitsotakis added that he had “no reason to doubt the sincerity” of Erdoğan, albeit noting that the “turn” in the Turkish leader’s formerly aggressive tone could be interpreted as “possibly adapting to reality.”

Erdoğan had hosted a March 2022 meeting with Mitsotakis in Istanbul, but the relationship rapidly soured in the following months as the Turkish leader stepped up verbal attacks on Athens.

Erdoğan accused Greece of “occupying” Aegean islands, whose status was settled in post-war treaties, and warned that Turkey’s armed forces could “come overnight” and “do what is necessary.”

At their last encounter in Prague in October, the pair had a verbal spat when Erdoğan reportedly said Athens was raising tension in the region with provocative actions.

Erdoğan at the time claimed that Mitsotakis had stormed out of the official dinner of an informal European summit.

But the rhetoric was toned down in February when Greece sent aid and rescue teams in the wake of a massive earthquake that killed more than 50,000 people.

Greece’s then-foreign minister Nikos Dendias was also the first European minister to visit Turkey after the quake.

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