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EU chiefs to hold video call with Turkey’s Erdoğan on Friday

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European Union chiefs Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel will hold a video conference with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Friday, Agence France-Presse reported, citing EU spokesmen.

The talks come as the two neighbors seek to make good on improving ties after a spike in tensions last year over maritime claims in the eastern Mediterranean.

The leaders of the EU’s 27 member states are set to discuss relations with Ankara at a summit in Brussels next week.

Relations plummeted after Ankara repeatedly sent a ship to search for gas deposits in disputed waters, angering the bloc and its member states Greece and Cyprus.

But both sides have been looking to smooth over the differences as Ankara resumed talks with Athens and extended an olive branch to Brussels.

The warming ties have seen sanctions agreed on in December by EU leaders put on the back burner over fears of slamming the brakes on the rapprochement.

Friday’s talks come on the fifth anniversary of a major deal signed between the EU and Turkey to reduce the number of migrants from war-torn Syria crossing into the bloc.

The accord has seen Ankara stem the flow of migrants in return for billions of euros in aid, but it has not stopped the sniping from both sides, and Turkey wants it reviewed.

The EU is also closely following UN efforts to restart peace talks over member state Cyprus in which Turkey is a key player.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will convene an informal meeting in April involving main international actors Greece, Turkey and Britain to explore how to break the deadlock.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey occupied its northern third in response to a coup orchestrated by the military junta then in power in Athens aimed at annexing the island to Greece.

The Republic of Cyprus, the only internationally recognized government, is a member of the European Union and exercises its authority over the southern part of the eastern Mediterranean island.

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