NEWS

Greece offers to deliver Gaza aid

Prime Minister George Papandreou on Sunday proposed to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas that Greece undertake the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza in cooperation with the United Nations.

According to a statement issued by Papandreou?s office after the two leaders spoke by telephone, Abbas expressed his support for the ?positive proposal? which came just two days after Greek authorities stopped pro-Palestinian activists from setting sail from Greek ports with the aim of breaking the blockade on the Gaza Strip.

A spokesman for the Hamas authorities in Gaza was less receptive. ?We regret the position of Greece, which has responded to international pressure to stop the Freedom Flotilla from sailing,? Mohammed Awad said. ?We call on them to reconsider their ban on the flotilla setting sail and to allow them to leave,? he added.

On Sunday Greek authorities blocked a Canadian vessel carrying activists that was due to sail from Crete to Gaza. Coast guard officers reportedly boarded the ship on Friday, the same day that a US vessel was prevented from sailing from Perama, near Piraeus.

On Saturday Greek authorities arrested the captain of the Audacity of Hope, another boat in the flotilla. The 60-year-old, John Klusmire, was being detained by police in Piraeus - in ?terrible? conditions, according to fellow crew members - and was to remain there until a court hearing scheduled for tomorrow.

Klusmire faces charges of trying to leave the port without permission and of endangering the lives of the boat?s passengers, a felony.

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