Merkel urges Turkey, Greece dialogue

By AAP Newswire

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged Turkey and Greece to open a direct dialogue with one another to de-escalate an energy row that is playing out in the eastern Mediterranean, her spokesman says.

A day previously, Merkel had phoned Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters in Berlin.

"The tensions are worrying. De-escalation is important as well as avoiding any further aggravation," Seibert added.

NATO allies Turkey and Greece are at odds over exploration for hydrocarbon resources in the area.

Greece and the EU claim Turkey's drilling in the region is illegal.

Turkey contests that the area is within its exclusive economic zone.

Turkey resumed its energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean on Monday despite a deal between Greece and Egypt setting out rights to drill for oil and gas in the area.

Erdogan said on Friday that he and Merkel had agreed that their advisors should hold talks between August 23 and 28 "to tone (the situation) down."

The Turkish president told reporters in Istanbul that he hopes Merkel can convince Greece's Mitsotakis to the same end.

Merkel in July brokered talks between officials in Ankara and Athens, convincing Turkey to temporarily pause drilling in the area.

Ankara resumed its energy exploration this week following the deal between Greece and Egypt.