US President Donald Trump hailed his country’s close relations with Greece as he welcomed Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at the White House on Tuesday.
As the meeting got under way, Trump said the two countries are “doing a lot” together and will continue to do so.
“We have many things to discuss, the relationship is really extraordinary, as good as it can gets. We’re doing a lot of things together, militarily, we’re also doing a lot of trade. Greece has done a tremendous comeback, we’ve worked with them very closely,” he said.
Mitsotakis said Greece is “very much interested” in participating in the F-35 program. He said the maritime border agreement between Libya’s Tripoli-based government and Turkey “infringes upon Greece’s sovereign rights.” “We’re very much looking to your support… because it is a very important issue for my country,” he told Trump.
Asked if he will talk to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan about the issue, the US president gave a general answer. “We are talking to him and we’re discussing with many other countries… about that subject specifically. We’ll be talking to Russia – many countries are involved. It’s now a mess… and they know where we stand.”
Earlier in the day, during an event at the Washington-based think tank Atlantic Council, Mitsotakis suggested that Greece is leaving behind its crisis years and “looking to aggressively attract foreign direct investment” as it is a reliable ally in an unstable region.
Asked about his visit to the US, Mitsotakis said it is an opportunity “to set new, more ambitious targets” to boost cooperation in the areas of defense, economy and energy. “We’re coming at a time of great geopolitical turbulence but also at a time when the Greek-American relationship is, in my mind, the best it has ever been,” he said at the Atlantic Council. “This is a very, very important relationship to Greece.” Describing the relationship as one with “strategic depth,” he said Greece has always been a “very reliable and dependable partner” of the US in a complex region.
Mitsotakis described the Turkey-Libya deal as “geographically ridiculous” as it disregards the presence of Crete. “You just need to look at the map to understand that there is no connection between Turkey and Libya,” he said.
Greece and Turkey have their differences, he said, while adding that Athens is “open” to going to the International Court of Justice at The Hague over maritime border disagreements.
As for the EastMed pipeline deal between Greece, Israel and Cyprus, he said it is “an ambitious long-term project” that will bring gas into the European markets. “For the next 30 years at least, natural gas will be the transition fuel that will allow Greece to move toward a carbon-neutral Europe.”
In a meeting earlier, Mitsotakis met with International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, announcing afterward that the IMF office in Athens would close. He also called for a lowering of primary surplus targets from 2021.