Greek diplomacy continues to focus on the country’s exact participation and extended role in a pending EU military operation in the Red Sea, as Athens has already proposed that the headquarters for the mission be based in the central Greece city of Larissa and for a prominent role in the command structure.

The European Union’s defense ministers last week agreed to field an operation, code-named “Aspides”, in the Red Sea against rebel Houthi attacks on shipping.

Along those lines, DM Nikos Dendias on Monday received Italy’s new ambassador to Greece, Paolo Cuculi, at the ministry, with the latter side subsequently announcing that the meeting touched on security challenges in the wider region, in tandem with the need to respect international law and the Law of the Sea convention.

Dendias also reportedly expressed his thanks for Rome’s support to base the Aspides operation’s HQ in Larissa.

The Greek government has already announced that it will contribute a Hellenic Navy frigate to the operation, as well as having contacts the US-led “Prosperity Guardian” operation, also in the Red Sea.

In a related development, Italian Deputy PM and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Antonio Tajani was quoted in Sunday’s Corriere della Sera as saying the land-based command of Aspides will be assigned to Greece, with Italy assuming command of the seaborne portion.

The Italian navy is expected to participate with initially with the destroyer Caio Duilio, along with naval assets from France, German and, as previously stated, Greece.

Unconfirmed reports have the deputy commander at the proposed Larissa HQ being selected by France.