U.S. President Donald Trump said he had “very productive” discussions at the White House Tuesday with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras that focused on military cooperation, energy security and economic investment.
Praising it as “the most stable country in the region,” Trump said he looks forward to collaborating more closely with Greece “because we have common views and common interests.”
Trump said a possible $2.4 billion deal with Greece to upgrade its F-16 aircraft is being negotiated, an agreement he said “will generate thousands of American jobs.”
“We also are making great strides in our economic cooperation,” Trump said. “The American people stand with the Greek people as they recover from the economic crisis that recently afflicted their nation.”
'Pillar in security'
Trump’s talks with a key ally comes as U.S. relations with Turkey have become increasingly strained, contributing to more instability in the region.
“Greece today is the most significant pillar in security and cooperation in one of the most important but at the same time unstable, sensitive areas of the planet,” Tsipras told reporters Tuesday.
Tsipras added that Greece not only fulfills its financial obligations to NATO but "maintains the dialogue with Turkey despite the difficulties that we face."
Since he took office in 2015, Greece's economy has strengthened to some extent while its neighbor, Turkey, has become more unstable.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan continues a controversial campaign to consolidate power amid deteriorating relations with Washington. A U.S. consular staff member was arrested last week in Istanbul, prompting the Trump administration to freeze non-immigrant services that are provided to Turkey, a move that was quickly mirrored by Ankara.
During a March 2016 speech, Tsipras criticized Trump's Republican nomination for the presidency, saying “I hope we will not face this evil.”
At the White House Tuesday, Tsipras was more conciliatory toward Trump when asked about the remark.
Very fertile outlook
“Not any moment did I feel threatened,” Tsipras said of the meeting. “I saw that there is a very fertile outlook here in order to set aside any differences we may have to find the common ground.”
Trump acknowledged some countries may have been “a little bit nervous at the beginning” of his presidency.
He said he now has “very good relationships with the leaders of virtually every country I've dealt with,” but added I will not allow our country of the United States of America to be taken advantage of by some many other countries all over the world.”