Greek prime minister to pay official visit to Turkey
( dpa ) - Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis is scheduled to pay an official three-day visit to Turkey on January 23-25, the first such visit of a Greek premier since 1959, the government announced Thursday.
Karamanlis is set to hold talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdogan during the trip, which will include visiting the capital Ankara and Istanbul, and the two leaders will discuss bilateral issues as well as issues of international interest.
The two traditional foes, Greece and Turkey - which have come close to war three times in recent years - have undergone a gradual thawing in relations since twin earthquakes struck both countries in 1999, resulting in a mutual outpouring of support.
Relations have warmed in recent years, helped by Athens' support for Turkey's bid to join the European Union.
As a result, both Athens and Ankara have expanded military cooperation as part of a series of confidence building measures and have agreed to conduct joint NATO missions on disaster assistance efforts and overseas peacekeeping duties.
Late last year Karamanlis and Erdogan inaugurated a pipeline project to transport natural gas between the two countries and eventually link Caspian Sea gas supplies to the rest of Europe.
However, the two NATO neighbours still remain divided over territorial rights in the Aegean and over Cyprus.
Erdogan visited Greece in 2004 and the two countries have spent months trying to schedule the reciprocal visit of the Greek prime minister.