Before Pompeo landed in Greece, he had a conversation on tensions in the eastern Mediterranean with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his wife are welcomed by US Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey R. Pyatt, in the northern city of Thessaloniki, Greece, September 28, 2020.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his wife are welcomed by US Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey R. Pyatt, in the northern city of Thessaloniki, Greece, September 28, 2020. (AP)

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, arrived in Greece on an official visit early Monday.

Before he landed, he had a conversation on tensions in the eastern Mediterranean with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

Relations between NATO members Greece and Turkey, always tense, have further deteriorated this year over long-standing disputes, including maritime boundaries and energy rights.

France has been vocal in its support for Greece and the latter’s call for European Union sanctions.

Pompeo tweeted about the conversation with Stoltenberg to "reiterate the importance of NATO Alliance unity" while en route to Greece.

READ MORE: Will the international community find a fair solution in the east Med?

Pompeo's meetings

Pompeo arrived in Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-largest city, shortly after midnight Sunday on the first leg of a five-day trip to Europe, which includes visits to Italy, the Vatican and Croatia. 

This is is the first visit by a US secretary of state to Thessaloniki.

According to State Department background briefings, Pompeo will meet with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias to renew the two countries’ shared commitment to advance security, peace, and prosperity in the eastern Mediterranean and celebrate the strongest US-Greek relationship in decades.

READ MORE: Turkey and Greece to meet in Istanbul for eastern Mediterranean talks

On Monday, Pompeo will meet with Dendias, 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.

Pompeo will depart later Monday to visit the NATO Souda Bay naval base. 

He will tour the facilities Tuesday and have lunch with 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.

READ MORE: Greece calls to 'give diplomacy a chance' in eastern Mediterranean

Source: AP