Security on Karamanlis’s US agenda

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will discuss Olympic security, Greek-Turkish relations and the Cyprus issue when he meets with President George W. Bush in Washington next week. Karamanlis will leave Athens on Monday for a visit on which both sides seem to be investing hopes. Washington is said to believe that Karamanlis is a credible partner and a politician who is down to earth. Washington is also said to appreciate Karamanlis’s position on crucial issues, such as Greek-Turkish relations and the Cyprus issue. In this light, the fact that he will be having a working lunch with Bush is considered an indication of Washington’s interest in further improving relations with Athens. The Greek side, in turn, sees the visit not only as a confirmation but also an opportunity to strengthen «the traditional good relations between Greece and the United States,» as Foreign Ministry spokesman Giorgos Koumoutsakos said yesterday. In his talks with Bush on May 20, Karamanlis is expected to refer to the massive effort that Greece is making to ensure a safe Olympic Games. Also, the positive impression left by the visit to Greece last week of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Greece’s steady support of Turkey’s EU aspirations will feature in the talks. Regarding Cyprus and developments following the rejection of the UN reunification plan by the Greek Cypriots, Karamanlis will repeat Athens’s position that the potential for a solution to the problem has to be kept alive. The two men will discuss bilateral relations as well as regional issues, including the Middle East. Karamanlis, whose conservative New Democracy party won March 7 elections, will meet with Vice President Dick Cheney and members of the Greek-American community. On the morning of May 18, Karamanlis will meet at the United Nations in New York with Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Sources said that Annan might reveal what he is planning to say in the report on the Cyprus issue that he will submit to the Security Council. The two may also discuss developments in Iraq and the Middle East and the role Greece plays in the Balkans.

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