US salutes Greece, Turkey earthquake diplomacy

Washington (AFP) –


The United States on Friday hailed diplomacy between uneasy neighbors Greece and Turkey following a major earthquake and said it was ready to assist the NATO allies.

"It's great to see both countries putting their differences aside to help each other during a time of need. The United States also stands ready to assist," said Robert O'Brien, the national security advisor.

At least 14 people died in the 7.0-magnitude quake near the Greek island of Samos, with much of the damage in the coastal Turkish city of Izmir.

State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus offered US condolences for the loss of life and said the United States was "heartened" by cooperation between the Turkish and Greek foreign ministers.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis placed a rare call to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after the earthquake.

"Whatever our differences, these are times when our people need to stand together," Mitsotakis said on Twitter.

Erdogan aide Fahrettin Altun tweeted that the disaster "reminds us once again how close we are despite our differences over policy."

Tensions have soared in recent months after Turkey sent a military-backed vessel to explore for energy resources in disputed waters.