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Greece, US Back Drilling Off Crete; Call for Respect to International Law

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Greek and American officials hailed on Monday during a teleconference the partnership between oil giants ExxonMobil of the US, Total of France and Hellenic Petroleum in two offshore exploration licenses off Crete.

“Both sides welcomed the participation of ExxonMobil in partnership with Total and Hellenic Petroleum in two offshore exploration license areas to the West and South-West of Crete and look forward to forging new partnerships in this sector,” a statement by the Department of State reads, following the second high-level meeting of the Strategic Dialogue Energy Working Group.

Greece and the US vowed to “forge new partnerships in this sector,” according to the statement.

The teleconference was attended by US Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources Francis Fannon, US Department of Energy Undersecretary for Energy Mark Menezes, Greek Deputy Foreign Minister for Economic Diplomacy Kostantinos Fragkogiannis and Deputy Minister of Energy Gerassimos Thomas.

The statement by the Department of State says that the meeting “reaffirmed Greece’s and United States’ commitment to working together in support of diversifying energy sources in South East Europe, working with regional partners in the Eastern Mediterranean to develop energy resources and to promoting regional energy security.”

Among the topics discussed by the group was the potential of private investments from the United States in the Greek energy sector and expanding cooperation in renewables, following new legislation passed by Athens facilitating such investments.

The delegations also called for adherence to the provisions of international law. “All states of the Eastern Mediterranean region need to conduct their activities in accordance with international law, including the international law of the sea as reflected in the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention, and promote good neighborly relations to the benefit of regional stability and security, thus creating a conducive environment for the diversification of energy resources and routes.”

The Energy Working Group is an extension of the US-Greece Strategic Dialogue meetings held in December 2018 and October 2019.

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