Kerry meets Kotzias and pledges U.S. support for investments, especially in energy

Kerry meets Kotzias and pledges U.S. support for investments, especially in energy

Kerry meets Kotzias and pledges U.S. support for investments, especially in energy

The United States support Greece, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in Greek after his meeting with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias in Athens on Friday, in this way signalling that the relations of friendship between the two countries remain undisturbed.

"Together we stand, divided we fall," he said, expressing his certainty that the two countries will remain close friends and allies.

In joint statements after a meeting involving delegations of the two sides, Kerry said his visit to Athens was a chance "to praise the warmth and resilience of the Greek people, who have opened their doors to migrants while trying to emerge from the worst economic crisis in their history."

Kerry said that both countries had a shared strategic interest in issues of regional cooperation, both in economic terms and in the fight against ISIS. "With our allies we can defeat extremism," he said, while noting that Greece can bank on U.S. support in the area of trade and investments.

Noting that the U.S. was "very excited" about Greece's expanding role in energy security, Kerry referred to the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) and the Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB) gas pipeline projects, which he said would enhance regional stability and prosperity while creating new opportunities for U.S. investments in Greece that he would seek to relay to American companies.

The U.S. Secretary of State welcomed the agreement struck between Greece and its creditors, noting that "more effort is clearly needed" and expressing his conviction that "Greece and its leaders will continue the reforms that are necessary for the country to regain competitiveness, the confidence of markets and to attract investments."

Regarding Syria and the refugee crisis, Kerry and Kotzias both agreed on the need to combat ISIS and to find a political solution that will end the conflict and lead to talks between Assad and the Syrian opposition, so that there is a political transition in the country. They also both agreed that the refugee issue was neither Greek nor European but global.

Kerry said that Greece was "working hard in very difficult conditions" and referred to the need to register refugees and tackle the humanitarian crisis. He welcomed an EU decision to financially support Turkey, adding that the U.S. will do the same and had already given 4.5 billion dollars since the start of the fighting in Syria. He also pledged aid to the UNHCR, as well as Greece and other European countries on the frontlines of the refugee problem.

He briefed Kotzias on developments in Syria and his talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, while Kotzias filled him in concerning a recent trip to Iran. The U.S. Secretary of State said that Russia and Iran were also involved in efforts to achieve a ceasefire in Syria and progress toward a political transition.

In terms of the Cyprus issue, Kerry expressed optimism over the efforts for its resolution, stressing that the messages received during his visit to Cyprus on Thursday were very hopeful. He raised the issue of security for Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots so that the two sides can live in safety in the future and so that the solution adopted is accepted by the Cypriot people as a whole.

On his part, Kotzias expressed Athens' appreciation for the "constructive approach" adopted by the U.S. toward the problem of managing Greece's debt.

The Greek minister pointed to Greece's important role as mediator in the region, noting its position "at the centre of a triangle of instability and an important player that broadcasts stability in the region, which it knows very well."

Regarding Syria, Kotzias expressed Athens' support for the Vienna Process and for a political solution to the Syrian problem through a democratic constitution and elections. He pointed out that a major part of the refugee crisis was due to the events taking place in Syria and their repercussions, which Greece was handling with "humanity and in cooperation with our neighbours, in accordance with all rules of international relations and international law."

For this reason, Greece supports a political solution in Syria and support for the countries receiving the refugees, such as Jordan, Lebanon, as well as boosting stability in the region of Egypt, Sudan and Somalia, he said.

"There has to be a fair distribution of the burdens arising due to the refugee-migration crisis and primarily there has to be an effective tackling of terrorism and ISIS," he added.

With regard to Cyprus, Kotzias said that Greece supports all efforts for a solution carried out under the auspices of UN mediation, adding that it was unacceptable in the 21st century to have a UN and EU member-state subject to "anachronistic regimes such as guarantors and the presence of foreign troops."

In terms of energy cooperation, he noted that the Greek side always worked for Greek-U.S. cooperation for the benefit of regional stability.

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