The chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joseph F. Dunford, expressed Washington’s desire to strengthen bilateral cooperation with Greece and to further upgrade the American base at Souda Bay on Crete during his meeting Thursday in the US capital with the Chief of the Hellenic National Defense General Staff, Admiral Evangelos Apostolakis.
Describing Greece’s armed forces as an important partner for the US military, Dunford discussed ways of increasing joint training between the army, navy and air forces of both countries, the expansion of activities of the NATO Maritime Interdiction Operational training Center (NMIOTC) at Souda, as well as enhancing the exchange of intelligence.
For his part, Apostolakis outlined the initiatives taken by Greece’s armed forces to promote military cooperation in the Balkans, North Africa and the Middle East, and also raised the issue of the conduct of Turkey’s fighter jets in the Aegean Sea which violated Greek air space again Thursday. Two Turkish F-16s engaged in mock dogfights with a pair of Greek Mirage 2000s northeast and south of the eastern Aegean island of Chios Thursday morning.
Meanwhile, Turkey has issued a navigational telex urging Turkish-flagged ships in the Aegean to be on the lookout after the Greek coast guard opened fire on a Turkish-flagged cargo vessel on Monday that had refused to stop for an inspection off the coast of Rhodes. Greek authorities said they suspected it was transporting drugs.