Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias was on Monday meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Thessaloniki in northern Greece.
Deputy Foreign Minister Kostas Fragogiannis and US Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt were also present at the meeting.
Security was tight in the port city, with the venue of the meeting changing from the originally planned location, a local ministry, to a hotel for security reasons, authorities said. A protest against his visit was planned for Monday evening.
Pompeo, who is visiting Thessaloniki for the first time, will sign a bilateral science and technology agreement, as well as host energy sector business leaders for a discussion to highlight energy diversification and infrastructure projects in Greece.
He will also join members of the city’s Jewish community to commemorate Yom Kippur.
Tweeting on his visit to Greece, his second in less than a year, Pompeo said: “Thrilled to be back in Greece, a vital US partner with whom we share a common strategic vision. The strength of our bilateral relationship is at an all-time high, and I’m looking forward to a productive visit.”
In a tweet Monday, Pyatt said the two sides would be reviewing “the gains we’ve made this year in all areas of the US-Greece relationship.”
“We will continue to invest in northern Greece and support Greece’s efforts to build peace, stability, and prosperity in the East Med,” he said.
Pompeo will depart later Monday to visit the NATO Souda Bay naval base.
He will tour the facilities Tuesday and have lunch with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at the latter’s nearby residence.
The two will issue a joint statement.
The US secretary of state will depart Greece early Wednesday for Rome.
In a document it released on the occasion of Pompeo’s visit, the State Department said Greece “is a critical partner with which the United States shares key strategic goals.”
The US considers Greece “a pillar of stability in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Western Balkans and a vital partner in bolstering security and prosperity in the region,” the State Department document said.
“We are committed to supporting Greece’s security, prosperity, and continued democracy,” it added.
Hours before his trip, Pompeo had a discussion on de-escalating the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
Tweeting afterwards on his official account, Pompeo said he was “pleased” to discuss the issue with Stoltenberg and to “reiterate the importance of NATO Alliance unity.”
This is a developing story.
FM @NikosDendias welcomes @SecPompeo on his landmark 1st visit to #Thessaloniki underscoring strong ties &growing partnership b/w & / O ΥΠΕΞ Ν.Δένδιας υποδέχεται τον Αμερικανό ΥΠΕΞ στην 1η του επίσκεψη στη Θεσσαλονίκη-ισχυροί δεσμοί& διαρκώς ενισχυόμενη εταιρική σχέση & pic.twitter.com/vCCRnxGWrF
— Υπουργείο Εξωτερικών (@GreeceMFA) September 28, 2020
Pleased to join @SecPompeo and my friend Min @NikosDendias to review the gains we've made this year in all areas of the US-Greece relationship. We will continue to invest in northern Greece and support Greece's efforts to build peace, stability, and prosperity in the #EastMed. pic.twitter.com/G9TT01ylyx
— Geoffrey Pyatt (@USAmbPyatt) September 28, 2020