Minister to visit USA on Sunday, tripartite pact ‘positive’ for EU Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou is to discuss US-EU and US-UN relations with his American counterpart, Donald Rumsfeld, and US National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice during a visit to the USA from Sunday, March 30 to April 6, defense officials said on Monday. Papantoniou is to visit Texas on April 2 to take delivery of the first upgraded F-16 aircraft Greece has ordered from the USA. Also on Monday, the state Athens News Agency quoted Greek officials as saying Athens views as positive plans by Germany, France and Belgium to coordinate their armed forces. The agreement could be the basis for a common European defense identity, which is one of Greece’s clear goals, officials said. WEATHER PROBLEMS Attica mostly snow-free after Monday’s travel chaos Snow that fell across Attica on Sunday and Monday, causing travel chaos, had mostly disappeared yesterday after temperatures rose. Heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures on Sunday night resulted in the postponement of most flights to and from Athens International Airport on Monday as aircraft had to be de-iced before takeoff. Snow in northern and eastern Attica also caused problems on many roads on Monday. Ferries, which had been confined to port in Piraeus and Rafina due to high winds, yesterday resumed journeys to most of the Aegean Islands. KASHMIR ATTACK Ministry condemns slaughter The Foreign Ministry in its role as EU president on Monday condemned the slaughter of 24 Hindus in the village of Nandimarg in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. «There can be no justification for such an atrocious act,» a ministry statement said. «The presidency reiterates the EU’s categorical rejection of terrorism in all its forms,» the statement added. Indian police said yesterday they believed the gunmen were Islamic militants who have been fighting for Kashmir’s independence from mainly Hindu India since 1989. Papadopoulos back Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos on Monday returned from the USA where he underwent medical treatment on his vocal chords, government spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said, adding that the president also had a medical checkup that did not reveal any health problems. Papadopoulos will refrain from making any announcements for a few days but will be carrying out his duties, Chrysostomides said. FYROM diplomat The former defense minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Blagoj Hajinski, was yesterday officially appointed as chief of FYROM’s diplomatic mission in Athens by the country’s President Boris Trajkovski. During his meeting with Trajkovski, Hajinski stressed the need for boosting bilateral ties between Greece and FYROM. Hajinski replaces Ljubco Arsovski who left his post last summer. Mercy flights Military C-130 transport aircraft and Super Puma rescue helicopters undertook the transfer to hospitals of a total of 18 people in need of medical attention between March 19 and 23, air force officials said on Monday. Karamanlis in Paris Opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis is due to arrive in Paris tomorrow ahead of a speech he will deliver at the French Academy on Friday titled «Charles de Gaulle and Constantine Karamanlis.» The opposition leader is also due to meet with French Alternate Foreign Minister Noelle Lenoir, who is responsible for European affairs. Murder Police were yesterday investigating the motive behind the murder of a 60-year-old woman found with multiple stab wounds to the chest in her Glyfada apartment just after midnight on Monday. Panayiota Karabatsi, whose apartment was on the ground floor, was found by her sister who lives in the flat above hers. Police said there was no sign of a break-in, nor of robbery. Summit conclusions The official website of the Greek EU presidency (www.eu2003.gr) will provide live coverage of Prime Minister Costas Simitis’s presentation of the conclusions of the European Union’s Spring Summit at 3 p.m. (Belgian time) in Brussels today.