Syrian president in Greece on state visit

President Bashar Al Assad arrived in Athens last night for a three-day state visit which begins today. The visit is aimed at boosting ties between Greece and Syria and Assad will meet with Greek political leaders as well as take part in business meetings. The effort to increase tourism to Syria will be high on the agenda. President Costis Stephanopoulos will welcome Assad at an official ceremony at the Presidential Palace at 10.15 a.m. They will hold a private meeting before the two countries’ delegations meet. They will speak to the news media at 11.30 a.m. Tonight Stephanopoulos will host a state dinner. The Syrian president will meet also with Prime Minister Costas Simitis, political party leaders and Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyianni. In an interview with Kathimerini last Sunday, Assad set out the aims of his visit and spoke of his country’s role in the broader region.