BEIJING (AFP) – China Ocean Shipping Co (COSCO) is in talks to own part of a major Greek port that would give it increased access to European markets, state press reported yesterday. COSCO Hellas, the Chinese shipping giant’s Greek subsidiary, has expressed interest in taking a stake in the Piraeus Port Authority (PPA), the China Daily reported, citing an official at COSCO’s port operation department. A potential deal was discussed during Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis’s visit to China last month and preliminary negotiations have begun, said the COSCO official, surnamed Chen. China Shipping Group, China’s second-largest shipping after COSCO, is also seeking a foothold in facilities in the Greek port of Crete, the China Daily said. COSCO President Wei Jiafu has said the global port investments are a priority for the company. COSCO signed a deal in December to buy a 20 percent stake in the Suez Canal Container Terminal in Egypt, its first port investment in the Middle East. The same month it took a 10 percent stake of a joint a venture with AP Moeller-Maersk and Hutchison Whampoa to develop the second phase of Shanghai’s Yangshan port. Aside from its many interests in Chinese ports along the Pearl and Yangtze river deltas, COSCO has a 49 percent stake in a terminal in Singapore and a 25 percent stake in Belgium’s Antwerp port.