U.S. President Donald Trump said his country supports “responsible debt relief” for Greece to assist in its economic recovery, during a joint press conference with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in the White House Rose Garden on Tuesday.
Trump said talks centered on defense, energy, commerce and trade and expressed support for reforms and investments in the crisis-hit country.
“We’re also making great strides in our economic cooperation. The American people stand with the Greek people as they recover from the economic crisis that has recently afflicted their nation,” he told the press.
“I’ve encouraged the prime minister in his continued implementation of reforms and I have totally reaffirmed our support for a responsible debt relief plan. A strong and flourishing Greece provides immense opportunity for American trade, investment and job creation.”
The president hailed Tsipras’ efforts to turn Greece around noting that Americans are standing next to Greeks as they recover from the crisis. He noted the “long and durable” bilateral relations, adding that the U.S. and Greece have a joint commitment to freedom.
Trump also thanked Greece and its government for hosting U.S. Naval Forces in Souda Bay, Crete, and for being one of the few countries that keep their military spending above NATO’s target.
“I also commend Greece on being one of the few NATO countries currently spending at least two percent of GDP on defense,” he said.
Commenting on their bilateral talks, he said that Greece has expressed interest in upgrading its fleet of F-16 military jets. “My administration has also informed Congress of a potential sale to Greece to upgrade its F-16 aircraft. This agreement to strengthen the Hellenic Air Force is worth up to 2.4 billion dollars and will generate thousands of American jobs,” he said.
On energy, the president said he appreciates Greek contributions to European energy security through its support of the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), the Greece-Bulgaria Interconnector (GBI) and the liquefied natural gas facilities that are capable of transporting diverse sources of energy to Europe, including potential liquefied natural gas exports from the United States.
“These initiatives make both our people safer and create jobs,” he noted.
Trump also mentioned the selection of the U.S. as than honouree at next year’s Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF).
“I’m very proud that the United States will be the honoured country at next year’s [Thessaloniki] International Fair in Greece. This historic business and trade exhibition will showcase American technology, enterprise and innovation on the world stage,” he said.
Tsipras says Greek-American relations are at their best since WWII
Greek-American relations are at their best, possibly since the Second World War, Tsipras said, noting that they are based on mutual respect and are fueled by U.S. support in helping Greece exit the crisis.
He said bilateral cooperation is today more important than ever and Athens is looking forward to attracting significant US investments.
“I want to assure you that the meeting was very productive, I never felt threatened. On the contrary I felt there is a fruitful perspective in order to overcome any differences that may exist and to see the common ground that is very important for the relations of our two peoples that are traditional and historical and for our common goals,” he said, responding to a journalist’s question.
Commenting on Greece’s foreign relations, Tsipras urged Turkey to stop its provocations in the Aegean adding the country supports a just and sustainable solution for Cyprus. He said the U.S. can help relieve Greece of its “national concerns”.
Asked about whether he believed Turkey should remain in NATO, he reiterated Greece’s position that it supports both Turkey’s NATO membership and its EU course, noting however that the neighbouring country must respect international law and treaties.
“Greece is following a new dogma of a multi-dimensional foreign policy, with its main objective to upgrade Greece’s role as a country that is a pillar of stability and security in an unstable region,” he said.