PM meets with president to discuss Greece’s role in Syria intervention

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Tuesday met with President Karolos Papoulias at the Presidential Mansion in central Athens to discuss Greece’s possible role in a US-led military intervention in Syria, following Samaras’s trip earlier this month to New York and Washington, where he met with US President Barack Obama.

“One year ago, the region around Greece emitted a sense of stability while Greece was the source of instability,” Samaras said following the meeting. “Now that situation has made a 180-degree turnaround. Greece is a bastion of stability and security in a region that is literally ablaze.

“These issues were extensively analyzed with President Obama. This sense of stability also needs to be enhanced within this country,” Samaras told Papoulias.

According to sources Washington has asked Athens, a NATO ally, to provide permission for US military ships and aircraft to pass through Greek territory as well as use of the Souda Bay and Kalamata military bases for an intervention in Syria following the August 21 mass gassing of civilians, over which the government of President Bashar al-Assad and rebel forces have blamed each other.

Earlier on Tuesday US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel was reported by the BBC as saying that American forces are “ready” to launch strikes on Syria if Obama chooses to order an attack.

The UK is also reportedly preparing contingency plans for military action, the BBC said.

Greek officials have ruled out the possibility of active military involvement. They say the armed forces would only be mobilized in a bid to remove Greek nationals from the area in the event of all-out war.

Samaras on Tuesday did not respond to journalists’ questions regarding whether Greece will make its bases available to its NATO allies.