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The Greek Prime Minister thanked France for strengthening its military presence in the eastern Mediterranean amid tensions between Athens and Ankara.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis tweeted that French President Emmanuel Macron is"a true friend of Greece and also an ardent defender of European values ​​and international law, Reuters reported.

Tensions escalated after Turkey sent a seismic research vessel, escorted by warships, into the waters between the Greek island of Crete and Cyprus to search for potential offshore oil and gas reserves.

Greece has put its armed forces on alert and sent warships to an area off the southern coast of Turkey.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reiterated his call for dialogue and said he would hold talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Council President Charles Michel later Thursday to discuss the standoff.

The Turkish leader also accused France of provoking Greece and Cyprus to illegal steps.

The Greek Defense Ministry said French frigate Lafayette and helicopter carrier Tonnerre held joint exercises on Thursday with four Greek frigates in the eastern Mediterranean.

Two French Rafale fighter jets stopped at Souda airbase in Crete on Thursday after having previously been deployed to Cyprus for training.

The French Defense Ministry said its presence aims to strengthen France's self-assessment of the situation and reaffirms the country's commitment to freedom of movement, maritime security, and respect for international law in the Mediterranean.

Macron announced after a phone talk with Mitsotakis late Wednesday night that he has decided to temporarily strengthen the French military presence in the eastern Mediterranean in the coming days, in cooperation with European partners, including Greece.

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