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Greece to discuss 5-year US defence deal — PM

By AFP - Sep 12,2021 - Last updated at Sep 12,2021

ATHENS — Greece and the US are in talks to extend their defence deals by five years, instead of one-year renewals now in force, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Sunday.

“We are discussing a five-year extension to the defence cooperation agreement, so that we don’t have to renew it on an annual basis,” Mitsotakis told a news conference at the Thessaloniki International Fair.

There would be a “more important US presence in our country, possibly in areas where they currently do not have a presence”, he said, without elaborating.

Mitsotakis added that Greek-US strategic cooperation “is at its best level ever”.

In 2019, Athens and Washington signed a defence agreement allowing US forces a broader use of Greek military facilities during a visit by then US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

This however “does not shut the door to other strategic agreements”, the premier said on Sunday, citing an ongoing “very close” relationship with France.

Greece and France in January signed a 2.5 billion-euro ($3 billion) deal for 18 Rafale jets — 12 used and six new — as part of a burgeoning arms programme to counter Turkish challenges in the eastern Mediterranean.

On Saturday, Mitsotakis said Greece would “soon” purchase an additional six Rafales.

“The first among them will be flying in Greek skies before the end of the year,” the PM said, without giving further detail.

The announcement was welcomed Sunday by French Defence Minister Florence Parly, who tweeted: “Together, we are making progress in constructing true European autonomy.”

Athens also supports efforts by French President Emmanuel Macron to improve the EU’s independent operational capabilities, Mitsotakis said on Sunday.

Macron will visit Athens on Friday for a meeting of the Med7 summit of southern EU countries.

Greece spends more than 2 per cent of its national output on defence, the PM said.

Mitsotakis last year announced Greece’s most ambitious arms spending programme in two decades, including 15,000 additional troops, frigates, missiles and warplanes.

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