Greek, Turkish FMs get ball rolling

Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas and Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu agreed to kick-start rapprochement between their two nations during a long dinner in London late on Thursday night, sources in the British capital told Kathimerini. According to diplomatic sources, Davutoglu said he indicated Ankara’s readiness to step up exploratory talks on the delineation of the continental shelf, a longstanding point of dispute between Greece and Turkey. «There is significant ground for cooperation between Turkey and Greece’s new government,» Davutoglu was quoted as saying by Turkey’s Anatolia news agency following a three-and-a-half-hour dinner with Droutsas. «We are determined to put Turkish-Greek ties on a new, constructive footing, starting from the issues on which we have common understanding,» the Turkish minister was quoted as saying. According to Kathimerini’s sources, the two diplomats discussed in detail the five-page recently letter sent to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan by Greek Premier George Papandreou. In the letter, a response to a missive received from the Turkish premier in November, Papandreou reportedly suggests that the two countries jointly approach the International Court of Justice at The Hague to solve an ongoing dispute regarding the delineation of the continental shelf. Speaking to Skai Radio yesterday, Droutsas said that he would visit Ankara, in response to an invitation from Davutoglu on Thursday night, following «serious preparation.» Droutsas did not specify a date for his visit but it is expected to take place during the next few weeks. The plan is for Droutsas to lay the groundwork for a scheduled visit by Erdogan to Greece in the early summer. Droutsas has been busy since his arrival in London earlier this week. On Wednesday he had talks with his counterpart from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Antonio Milososki, on the sidelines of a conference on Afghanistan. Droutsas told Milososki that Greece wants to press ahead with United Nations-sponsored talks aimed at solving a bilateral dispute centering on FYROM’s official name. The Greek minister said that Athens would consider Skopje’s proposal to open embassies in the two countries.

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