Turkey, Greece agree to talks on Mediterranean tensions Sep 23, 2020 0 647 12345 AFPAnkaraTurkey and Greece have agreed to talks over disputed waters in the eastern Mediterranean, both sides said on Tuesday, after diplomatic efforts led by Germany to defuse a crisis that has raised fears of conflict.A standoff over gas exploration in contested waters has seen the NATO neighbours stage rival war games amid aggressive rhetoric but recent days have seen softer tones, raising hopes for a diplomatic solution.The latest flare-up began in August when Turkey sent the Oruc Reis research vessel to disputed waters near a Greek island accompanied by warships and prolonged the mission three times despite repeated calls from the European Union and Greece to stop.But on Tuesday, both sides said they were “ready to start exploratory talks” as a three-way video conference between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Council chief Charles Michel took place on Tuesday, the Turkish presidency said.The Greek foreign ministry confirmed, saying these would take place in Istanbul “soon,” without providing any precise date.This is not the first time that Greece and Turkey have held such talks on continental shelf disputes -- the last were held in 2016.Ankara argues that it has the largest coastline of all the eastern Mediterranean nations but a disproportionately small share of the sea because of Greece’s far-flung islands -- some of them within sight of Turkey’s shore.Athens counters that its claims to the waters are grounded in international law and past agreements signed by Ankara.Turkish officials have insisted the Oruc Reis research vessel will return to its work, and Turkish media on Tuesday reported the ship had left Antalya port.Ship-tracking website marinetraffic.com showed the vessel was off the coast of Turkey near Antalya on Tuesday late afternoon.Turkey has also extended the operations of another research vessel, Barbaros Hayrettin Pasa, in disputed waters off Cyprus until October 18. Its drill ship Yavuz will also remain off Cyprus until Oct 12.During the video conference, Erdogan suggested a regional conference with all sides including Turkish Cypriots would be “positive and constructive” in addressing the eastern Mediterranean issue. RELATED ARTICLES Trump blasts China over COVID-19 as UN warns against ‘Cold War’ Sep 23, 2020 0 315 Johnson tightens COVID-19 rules as UK hits ‘perilous turning point’ Sep 23, 2020 0 284 Spain calls on Madrid residents to restrict movements due to virus Sep 23, 2020 0 649 Putin calls for space peace treaty, offers COVID-19 vaccine to UN Moscow Speaking to the United Nations via video link, Russian President Vladimir Putin calls for an international treaty to prohibit weapons in space and offers Russia’s coronavirus vaccine to UN employees for free. .. Trump ‘spreading political virus’ at UN, says Chinese envoy NEW YORK: China on Tuesday accused Donald Trump of spreading a “political virus” at the United Nations after the US leader delivered a harsh attack on Beijing over the COVID-19 pandemic. “When the international .. Trump to announce crucial Supreme Court pick on Saturday Washington President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he will announce his pick on Saturday for the crucial Supreme Court seat left open by the death of justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, as Republicans firmed up their majority to .. US passes 200,000 coronavirus deaths AFP Washington The United States registered its 200,000th death from the COVID-19 pandemic on Tuesday, the latest grim milestone for the country just weeks before voters decide if President Donald Trump will stay in ..