June 26, 2020 / 2:18 PM / 17 days ago

Leaders of Turkey and Greece discuss COVID fallout in rare call

ATHENS, June 26 (Reuters) - Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan discussed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic by phone on Friday, the Greek leader’s office said - rare such contact for two neighbours at odds over a range of issues.

Erdogan and Mitsotakis addressed ways of handling the effects of the coronavirus outbreak, the reopening of borders and the re-establishment of tourist flows, a statement from Mitsotakis’s office said.

“Mr Mitsotakis and Mr Erdogan agreed to keep the bilateral channels of communication open,” it said.

A source with knowledge of the matter said: “The two leaders didn’t discuss high policy matters, but they did agree that tension is relatively high and that channels of communication must be restored.

“There cannot be a de-escalation of tensions if the two sides don’t talk.”

Though NATO partners and neighbours, Greece and Turkey have testy relations and differences on issues as diverse as airspace rights, maritime boundaries and ethnically-divided Cyprus. (Reporting by Michele Kambas and Renee Maltezou Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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