Oct. 17 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump offered praise for Greece's recovery from a financial crisis, saying he supports debt relief during a joint news conference Tuesday with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
The answered questions from reporters in the Rose Garden and largely spoke about Greece's financial woes and its role in creating stability in the region.
Tsipras said the U.S.-Greek "relationship is at its best since the second World War," and Trump offered support for Greece's financial recovery.
"A strong and flourishing Greece provides immense opportunity for American trade, investment and job creation," Trump said.
During their meeting, Tspiras was expected to ask Trump to urge the International Monetary Fund to show flexibility to the recession-hit country. With the first steps toward recovery for Greece beginning to show, the progress of its economy largely depends on the IMF and the Trump administration's stance on whether or not Greece's debt should be written off.
"Up to now, the Trump administration has been content to leave the debt relief issue totally in the hands of Greece's European creditors and the IMF," Alex Mally, a former senior U.S. diplomat, told The Guardian. "If they can get Trump to say debt relief in public it will be a huge coup."
And he did.
"I have totally reaffirmed our support for a responsible debt relief plan," Trump said after applauding Greece for being "one of the few NATO countries currently spending at least 2 percent" of its GDP on defense.
The leaders also were expected to discuss Turkey, a fellow NATO ally to both the United States and Greece. Both countries, though, are weathering tensions with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's government.
Turkey and the United States both recently imposed travel and visa restrictions on each other's citizens, after Turkish officials arrested a U.S. consulate worker in Istanbul. The worker was suspected of being associated with a U.S.-based Turkish cleric, who Erdoğan has accused of orchestrating an attempted coup last year.
Erdoğan eventually called for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. ambassador John Bass from Turkey.
"I find the lack of consultation by senior U.S. authorities with our foreign minister awkward," the Turkish president said. "If the ambassador acted on his own, then the U.S. administration should not keep him there for a minute."
Turkey and Greece have also dealt with their share of tensions over the island of Cyprus. Greek officials in February accused the Turkish military of violating its airspace and the Greek-controlled Cypriot Parliament passed a law the island's Turks deemed offensive.
Tsipras said in a speech on Monday that Greece "will not accept a united Cyprus whose security is guaranteed by Turkey under the threat of military intervention," and expressed hope that he could discuss the issue with Trump during their meeting.
Asked whether he still considers Turkey a democracy, Tsipras told reporters in the Rose Garden that he still respects Turkey as a regional power and believes it should remain in NATO.
"At same time ... the road to Europe and ... collaboration with the West carries with it certain responsibilities -- to respect international law, to collaborate and not promote tension with ally countries such as Greece," he said.