Greek PM agrees to hold talks with Libya over maritime border demarcation

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Greece and Libya are to discuss delineating maritime boundaries in the Mediterranean, the Greek Prime Minister’s office said on Wednesday, after a meeting between the Prime Minister and the head of Libya’s Presidential Council.

The talks in Athens with Mohamed al-Menfi, who previously served as an ambassador to Greece, came a week after Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, visited Tripoli to meet with the new interim Libyan government.

READ MORE: Mitsotakis urges Libya to scrap Turkey maritime deal, restores bilateral relations.

Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, left, welcomes the head of the Presidential Council of Libya, Mohamed al-Menfi, before their meeting, in Athens, on Wednesday, April 14, 2021. Photo: AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris.

The interim government took office last month, replacing two rival administrations that had governed the eastern and western parts of a country torn apart by war. It is to steer Libya to a general election in December.

Athens had expelled the Libyan ambassador in December 2019 during a dispute over a controversial deal on maritime boundaries in the Mediterranean signed that year between Turkey and Libya’s UN-supported government at the time.

Greece and Cyprus were outraged by the agreement, which they say runs contrary to international law and ignores their stakes in the region. Greece has since been pushing for the new interim government to cancel the deal.

Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, left, and the head of the Presidential Council of Libya, Mohamed al-Menfi, pose for photographers before their meeting, in Athens, on Wednesday, April 14, 2021. Photo: AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris.

READ MORE: Libya willing to discuss issue of maritime zone delineation, Athens says.

Addressing al-Menfi at the start of their meeting, Mitsotakis said he welcomed “your and the Libyan Prime Minister’s intention for your country to discuss with Greece crucial issues such as the delineation of maritime boundaries.”

The north African country’s new government has not indicated it would be willing to overturn its controversial deal with Turkey.

Libyan Prime Minister, Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, visited Ankara on Monday. Speaking after talks with Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, he said the deal serves both Turkey’s and Libya’s national interests. But he added it was important to start a dialogue that would take into account all involved parties’ interests.

Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, looks on as he waits for the arrival of the head of the Presidential Council of Libya, Mohamed al-Menfi, prior their meeting, in Athens, on Wednesday, April 14, 2021. Photo: AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris.

READ MORE: Turkey and Libya recommit to contested maritime borders deal, angering Greece.

For his part, Erdogan said the deal “has secured the interest and future of both countries.”

Turkey has been closely involved in Libya, backing the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), based in the capital Tripoli that controlled the west, against the Libyan National Army (LNA), based in Benghazi that controlled the east.

Turkey sent military supplies and fighters to Libya, helping to tilt the balance of power in favor of the Tripoli government, with which it signed the maritime deal.

Source: AP News.

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