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Greece and Turkey agree to improve ties after NATO summit

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The leaders of Greece and Turkey, who have been at odds over various issues for decades, met on Wednesday at a NATO summit in Lithuania and agreed to resume talks and confidence-building measures.

They also agreed to hold the next meeting of a High-Level Cooperation Council in Thessaloniki in the autumn.

Turkey and Greece have been engaged in a tense standoff over oil and gas exploration rights in the eastern Mediterranean, where both countries claim overlapping maritime zones. The dispute has escalated in recent months, leading to rival military exercises, diplomatic rows, and fears of a wider conflict.

The crisis was triggered in July, when Turkey announced that it was sending its Oruc Reis research ship to conduct a seismic survey in waters near the Greek island of Kastellorizo, which lies close to the Turkish coast. Greece denounced the move as a violation of its sovereign rights and sent its own naval vessels to shadow the Turkish ship.

The situation worsened in August, when Greece signed a maritime delimitation agreement with Egypt, which Turkey rejected as null and void. Turkey responded by extending the mission of the Oruc Reis until late August, and by announcing naval drills off the coast of Cyprus, where it also disputes Greek Cypriot claims to offshore energy resources.

The two NATO allies have also accused each other of violating international law and provoking incidents in the Aegean Sea, where their air and naval forces frequently come into contact. In one case, a Turkish frigate collided with a Greek ship, causing minor damage.

The dispute has drawn in other regional actors, such as France, which has expressed solidarity with Greece and Cyprus, and has deployed warships and fighter jets to the area. The European Union, of which Greece and Cyprus are members, has also warned Turkey of possible sanctions if it does not de-escalate the situation.

The meeting was an attempt to ease tensions that flared last year over maritime boundaries, energy exploration, and migration in the eastern Mediterranean.

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