NEWS

PM meets Bush today

New York – Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis’s meeting and working lunch with President George W. Bush will be the high point of his official visit to the United States. The key issue on the agenda will be the Athens Olympics and especially their security aspect. The issues to be discussed at the meeting and the lunch – which are scheduled to last 90 minutes – will include several of common interest, such as Greek-Turkish relations, the European prospects of Turkey, the Cyprus issue, developments in the Balkans, in Iraq and in the Middle East, the problem of terrorism and international cooperation needed to cope with it, and the prospects for a further strengthening of bilateral relations. A top official in the Greek government said that the main aim of Karamanlis’s visit is to confirm the very good level of relations between the two countries and the will for this to be strengthened further in all sectors. Karamanlis will also be meeting with Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, and the chairmen and members of the House Committee on International Relations and Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. «This is a visit of ‘good will,’» the same source said. «We are not going to negotiate anything or sign any agreement.» The Greek side, however, would be satisfied with a possible statement by Bush expressing a positive verdict of the security conditions at the Athens Olympics. This does not mean that Athens will consider it a failure if there is no such declaration. «Of course, it would be good for communications reasons but this needs care: We must not appear to be begging for a ‘certificate’ regarding our country’s security,» a government official said. He noted that the US government had recently and repeatedly spoken favorably on this issue. This has been the result of the Greek government’s decisions – including cooperation with NATO and the seven-nation Olympic security advisory committee (which includes the United States). Karamanlis met with editors of The New York Times on Tuesday and with the Wall Street Journal yesterday. The Olympics and the Greek economy were among issues discussed. Yesterday, Karamanlis spoke at a function organized by the Greece-US Business Council in New York.