During official remarks while on an official visit to Greece, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has announced that the massive United States Navy ship the USS Hershel “Woody” Williams will be based at a joint U.S.-Greek base near where Turkey earlier this year sent survey and drilling ships to search for gas. Some experts have found this move as a sign of the U.S.' growing irritation with Turkey.
“It’s literally the perfect choice in light of the facility’s strategic location. And it’s symbolic of a defense partnership that will continue to expand and to grow,” Pompeo said on Sept. 29, while visiting the Souda Bay base on Crete together with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
Deeply impressed by my visit to @NSA_SoudaBay. Thanks to the Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement @NikosDendias and I signed last year, our military-to-military relationship has been enhanced significantly. The strong @NATO Alliance continues to contribute to regional security. pic.twitter.com/xOORGIn2Gt— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) September 29, 2020
The 110-acre (44-hectare) Naval Support Activity base at Souda is the foremost U.S. naval facility in the eastern Mediterranean.Turkey, Greek Cyprus lobby for EU support ahead of summit
According to experts, the U.S.' move signaled a cooling of relations with Turkey and Washington’s eagerness to reduce American military reliance on Turkey.
The United States also has a massive air base in Turkey's southern province of Adana, but uncertainty grows about the future of İncirlik air base due to Turkey's purchase of S-400 defense missile systems from Russia.
Turkey has previously said that it could kick the U.S. out of İncirlik air base if Washington moves forward with sanctions linked to the S-400 deal.
Greece and Turkey, at loggerheads on a range of issues, have agreed to resume exploratory talks over contested maritime claims in the eastern Mediterranean “in the future” after weeks of tensions, but have not announced a date.
“We hope that these talks can continue in a serious way,” Pompeo said after meeting Mitsotakis Crete. “(We) encourage them to resume discussion of these issues as soon as possible.”
Pompeo was on a two-day trip to Greece following an increase in regional strains over energy resources.Turkey, Greece agree to resume talks after four years in Istanbul