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331420

UPDATE 1-NATO members must solve conflicts through dialogue - German foreign minister

(Adds Greek foreign minister, background, changes dateline)

ATHENS, July 29 (Reuters) - It's important that NATO members solve their conflicts through dialogue, said German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock in Athens, with an eye on the spat between Turkey and Greece.

Greece and Turkey have long-running disagreements over a range of issues, from conflicting Mediterranean maritime claims to air space and migration.

On Thursday, Greece and Cyprus accused Ankara of stoking tensions as Ankara prepared to dispatch a drill ship to the Mediterranean next month in a search for natural gas.

"Fighting within the alliance - that is exactly what the Russian president wants," said Baerbock, who added that she would repeat her message during her trip to Turkey later Friday.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said Greece was "always ready for a dialogue with Turkey, but a dialogue within the framework of international law."

Dendias said he raised the issue with Baerbock of Germany selling U-214 class submarines to Turkey, a move he argued would risk changing the balance of power in the Eastern Mediterranean in favour of Turkey.

Greece and Turkey came close to confrontation in 2020 when Turkey sent a drilling ship to contested Mediterranean waters.

They resumed talks last year after a five-hear hiatus, to address their differences in the Mediterranean Sea and other bilateral issues. The talks have made little progress and the countries have frequently traded barbs.

In June, President Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey was halting talks with Greece, partly over a dispute with the Greek prime minister and what Ankara calls airspace violations, marking the latest reversal in the neighbours' long-testy relationship. (Reporting by Matthias Williams, Miranda Murray, Lefteris Papadimas and Karolina Tagaris, Editing by William Maclean)

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