The United States is urging “everyone to stand down” in ongoing disputes about drilling and maritime rights in the East Mediterranean, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday.
“President Trump’s been in conversations with President Erdogan, he’s spoken with the prime minister in Greece. We’re urging everyone to stand down, to reduce tensions and to begin to have diplomatic discussions about the conflicts that exist there in the Eastern Mediterranean, the security conflicts, the energy resource conflicts, the maritime conflicts,” Pompeo told a press briefing in Washington.
'We know that this decision was announced in light of heightened tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean but we thought it was the right thing
“They need to sit down and have conversations about this and resolve this diplomatically. It is not useful to increase military tension in the region; only negative things can flow from that,” he added.
Asked about Washington’s decision to lift an arms embargo on Cyprus – a move that has angered Turkey – Pompeo said it was “long time coming”
“We know that this decision was announced in light of heightened tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean but we thought it was the right thing so I made the decision that we would move forward with it,” he said.
Following the announcement, Turkey issued a press release warning the decision would “have negative effects on the efforts to reach a settlement to the Cyprus issue.”
US Ambassador in Nicosia Judy Garber told a press conference on Wednesday that the decision to lift the embargo for one year was not about Turkey but about greater security and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean and to counter malign actors in the region.
Garber also pointed out that US laws enabling the arms embargo decision also called on the Republic of Cyprus to implement strong anti-money laundering regulations and financial regulatory oversight, as well as take necessary steps to deny Russian military vessels access to ports for refueling and servicing.
“The United States urges the Republic of Cyprus to take those steps," Garber said.
(Pompeo story reported by Kathimerini Greece Newsroom, additional reporting from Kathimerini Cyprus)