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Putin Vows Closer Russian-Greek Ties As He Visits Mount Athos

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (right) welcomes Russian President Vladimir Putin in Athens on May 27.

Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed to build closer relations with Greece as he wrapped up a two-day trip to the EU state by visiting the monastic community of Mount Athos, one of Orthodox Christianity's holiest sites.

He told a meeting with members of Athos's governing body, the Holy Kinot, on May 28 that "spiritual kinship and trust will be the determining factors of our traditionally close and friendly relations in the future"

Putin was taking part on May 28 in celebrations of the 1,000th anniversary of the Russian presence at the ancient, all-male monastic community of Mount Athos, located on the west coast of the Halkidiki peninsula.

Mount Athos is an enclave of 20 monasteries -- including one apiece for Russia, Serbia and Bulgaria -- that has enjoyed autonomy since Byzantine times.

In the company of the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, Putin visited the Russian monastery of St Panteleimon.

The Russian president was also accompanied by Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias.

Russia and Greece are both largely Orthodox Christian countries and share close religious ties.

Based on reporting by Reuters and TASS