Dendias (L) with Netanyahu. Photo: GPO/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty
Greece has asked Israeli leaders to lobby the Trump administration to take a stronger position in an intensifying dispute with Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Behind the scenes: Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias arrived in Israel for a short visit today. He asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi to speak with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and urge the U.S. to intervene more forcefully, Israeli officials briefed on the visit tell me.
The big picture: Turkey has sent a ship — along with military vessels — to explore for oil and gas in areas which Greece and Cyprus consider part of their exclusive maritime zones.
- Turkey's claim to the areas are part of a deal it struck with Libya's embattled government, which it is supporting militarily in an ongoing civil war. The deal's legitimacy has been widely questioned.
- France has emphatically backed Greece and Cyprus, with President Emmanuel Macron offering military support yesterday and dispatching ships and aircraft to the region.
- German Chancellor Angela Merkel is attempting to mediate. She spoke today with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
- The U.S. has had minimal involvement, but Pompeo will meet Dendias tomorrow in Vienna to discuss the crisis.
In the room: Dendias showed his Israeli counterparts maps of the areas where Turkish ships are operating.
- He expressed concern over America's absence in the dispute, and stressed that the Trump administration needs to “come back to the region," the Israeli officials say.
What’s next: The foreign ministers of the EU member states are also set to convene tomorrow for an emergency session about the crisis.
- Greek and French officials are concerned the tensions could escalate into a military conflict.