Stars & Stripes: US & Greece working on deal to expand military cooperation in the Mediterranean

The agreement could be finalized within two months

The U.S. and Greece will likely update a bilateral security pact this summer in a move that could pave the way for more American military missions in the region, Greece’s defense chief has said.

Greek Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos, describing military ties with the U.S. as being at an “all-time high,” said that the Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement between the countries is being amended.

The deal could “bring in more locations” where U.S. troops can operate in Greece, Panagiotopoulos said Tuesday during an online discussion at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The plan also could “enhance what is happening at the selected locations in operation right now,” he said.

The agreement could be finalized within two months.

Panagiotopoulos’ comments are the latest signal that Washington is looking to bolster its position in the eastern Mediterranean, where Russia has stepped up military activities and where China is gaining influence as a financial stakeholder at various European ports.

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Beijing is “very methodically, very patiently, very systematically — like everything China does — expanding its strategic posture in the region,” Panagiotopoulos said.

During the past three years, the U.S. has gradually boosted operations in Greece at multiple bases.

Read more: Stripes