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Turkey, Greece to hold exploratory talks in Istanbul

Turkey, Greece to hold exploratory talks in Istanbul

61st round of Exploratory Talks will take place in Istanbul on Jan. 25, says Turkish Foreign Ministry

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Exploratory talks between Turkey and Greece will restart in Istanbul two weeks from today, Turkey has announced.

"The 61st round of the Exploratory Talks will take place in Istanbul on 25 January 2021," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement Monday.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said earlier Monday that Turkey was inviting Greece to attend new talks hosted on Turkish soil.

The 60th round of talks, the last of the exploratory talks initiated between the two countries in 2002, took place in Athens in March 2016.

Afterward, bilateral negotiations continued in the form of political consultations but did not return to an exploratory framework.

The issue of energy rights and maritime boundaries are certain to loom large in any Turkish-Greek talks.

Turkey, which has the longest continental coastline in the Eastern Mediterranean, has rejected the maritime boundary claims of Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration in the region, stressing that these excessive claims violate the sovereign rights of both Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots.

Ankara last year sent several drillships to explore for energy on its continental shelf, asserting its own rights in the region, as well as those of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

Turkish leaders have repeatedly stressed that Ankara is in favor of resolving all outstanding problems in the region through international law, good neighborly relations, dialogue, and negotiation.

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