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Greek, Turkish fighter jets crash

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A Greek F-16 fighter jet

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ATHENS, Greece (CNN) -- The body of a Greek pilot was found Tuesday, hours after his fighter jet collided with a Turkish F-16 during a mock dogfight over the southern Aegean Sea, according to Turkey's foreign ministry.

The Turkish pilot ejected safely and was rescued.

The Greek F-16 had been dispatched to intercept the Turkish jet because it had violated Greek airspace, according to the Greek Defense Ministry.

Both fighter jets were maneuvering around each other in a mock dogfight when the crash happened around 1 p.m. (6 a.m. ET) about 12 miles east of the Greek island of Karpathos, the ministry said. (Click here to see map of area)

The ministry said the crash happened over international waters.

The pilot of an EgyptAir commercial jet witnessed the incident while on a flight to Cairo, a Greek Defense Ministry official said.

The collision highlights an ongoing dispute between Greece and Turkey, both members of NATO, over the boundaries between their airspace and territorial waters.

Archrivals Greece and Turkey regularly criticize each other for causing mock fights between warplanes over the Aegean sea.

Greece's defense ministry says it daily scrambles several fighter jets to intercept Turkish jets that it claims have invaded its airspace.

Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul phoned his Greek counterpart Dora Bakoyanni, who is visiting Helsinki, the Greek Foreign Ministry said in a statement, Reuters reported.

"The two foreign ministers expressed their regret for today's incident and agreed that this should not affect the two countries' efforts to improve their relations," the statement said.

The two countries, who came close to war as recently as 1996, have considerably improved ties but have not resolved territorial disputes in the Aegean Sea and over the divided island of Cyprus.

"This incident will not do any good," Thanos Veremis, of the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy think tank, told Reuters. "I think it will increase Greek frustration."

Journalist Anthee Carassava contributed to this report

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