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Greek PM agrees to talks with Libya on maritime zones

Greek PM Mitsotakis meets with Libya's head of Presidential Council al-Menfi in Athens

ATHENS (Reuters) -Greece and Libya have agreed to hold talks on marking out their maritime zones in the Mediterranean, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Wednesday, after a meeting with the president of the Libyan Presidential Council, Mohamed al-Menfi.

In a statement after the meeting, Mitsotakis said the two leaders “agreed on the immediate resumption of talks between Greece and Libya on the delimitation of the maritime zones”.

Libya’s new unity government took office on March 16, succeeding two warring administrations that had ruled eastern and western regions during a decade of violent chaos since the overthrow of autocratic leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Mitsotakis said Athens aimed to reset relations with Libya, which were soured by the Tripoli government’s signing a maritime boundary accord in 2019 with Turkey, Greece’s regional rival.

The issue has fed into tensions between Athens and Ankara over territorial and energy issues in the eastern Mediterranean that brought the two NATO allies close to armed conflict last year.

On Monday, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey and Libya were committed to the 2019 accord after talks with Libyan Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibeh in Ankara.

That accord, which prompted Greece to expel the Libyan ambassador at the time, mapped out a sea boundary between Turkey and Libya close to the Greek island of Crete. Athens has said it has no legal force and must be cancelled.

Last year Greece signed an agreement with Egypt designating an exclusive economic zone in the eastern Mediterranean, which Turkey has said infringes its own continental shelf, and which overlaps with the maritime zones it agreed with Libya.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias is due to visit Turkey on Thursday for talks on various issues of contention.

(Reporting by Lefteris Papadimas and George Georgiopoulos; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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