Washington [US], August 14 (ANI/Sputnik): Ranking members of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Menendez and Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen have urged US State Secretary Michael Pompeo and the European Union to impose sanctions against key sectors of the Turkish economy over its drilling operations in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The senators sent a letter to Pompeo on Thursday ahead of his Friday meeting with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias.

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"Citing Turkey's recent deployment of naval vessels to shadow a drilling ship into Greece's exclusive economic zone (EEZ), the senators called on the Trump administration to urge Turkey to remove its ships from international waters. The senators also urged Secretary Pompeo to work with the European Union to impose new sanctions on Turkey, if Turkey continues its increasing aggression in the Eastern Mediterranean," Menendez's press service said.

The senators called on the administration to develop a plan of comprehensive joint sanctions that would be imposed on "key sectors of the Turkish economy if Turkey continues to pursue illegal actions in the Eastern Mediterranean".

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The long-standing maritime border dispute between Turkey and Greece escalated this week after Turkey's Oruc Reis research vessel began exploration drilling in Greek-claimed waters in the Mediterranean on Monday.

On Thursday, the Greek Armyvoice.gr news portal reported, citing sources, that Greek naval frigate Limnos and Turkish frigate Kemalreis (F-247) "touched" each other in the eastern Mediterranean Sea in close proximity to Oruc Reis.

Earlier in August, Greece and Egypt signed a maritime deal on an EEZ in the Eastern Mediterranean, prompting Turkey to resume seismic research in the area. (ANI/Sputnik)

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