CULTURE

First official visit to Greece by King Abdullah II of Jordan

King Abdullah II Bin Al Hussein’s first visit to Greece began Thursday in brilliant winter sunshine. The young graduate of the Sandhurst military academy arrived with his lovely wife, Queen Rania, and were welcomed at the airport by Deputy Foreign Minister Panayiotis Skandalakis. The king’s first stop was the Presidential Palace for a meeting with President Karolos Papoulias and the signing of bilateral agreements. Political columnists have analyzed the content of the two leaders’ statements – here let it suffice to mention the scene, where good will and substantial cooperation set the tone of the visit. Also present were Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis, flanked by Ambassador Ioannis Vallindas, head of the Middle East division, and Ambassador Giorgos Zois of the Economic Services Department, adviser Yiannis Papameletiou and First Secretary Maria Papaconstantinou. On behalf of Jordan, the accords were signed by Industry and Trade Minister Sharif Zoubi. The Tourism Cooperation Accord was signed by Tourism Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos and the Investment Protection Accord by Stylianidis. To the disappointment of the photographers, however, Queen Rania was not present, having set out on her own program of visits in Athens. However, she accompanied her husband later in the day to Athens City Hall, where he was presented with the Gold Medal of the City of Athens by Mayor Dora Bakoyannis. Yesterday King Abdullah had a private meeting with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, followed by a working luncheon at the prime minister’s office. Yesterday afternoon, the royal couple were scheduled to fly home, while Jordanian Foreign Minister Abdul Ilah Khatib and his colleague the industry and trade minister went on to Istanbul heading a delegation.