3 foreign navies on 2004 duty

Greece will be at the center of a strong international military concentration during the August Olympics, with the US Sixth Fleet close to Athens and the Italian and Turkish navies patrolling to the west and east to ensure maximum security from a terrorist attack, Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou was quoted as saying yesterday. «The precise cooperation with NATO has not been formalized yet, but there is an understanding that the alliance would be on standby for any kind of emergency,» Papantoniou told the Financial Times. The paper quoted him as saying that the Italian and Turkish navies will be patrolling the Ionian and the Aegean seas, while ships from the US Sixth Fleet will «cruise within easy reach of Athens.» Furthermore, a NATO rapid reaction force will be stationed on standby outside Greece. Greece has long said that it would like NATO help with its Olympic security arrangements, but no formal request is expected until after next Sunday’s elections.