Bush, PM affirm ties

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met with President George W. Bush and other top officials in the US administration at the White House yesterday. Their talks focused on a wide range of bilateral and international issues, but their public comments concentrated mainly on the Athens Olympic Games and their security. On this issue, Bush appeared to give the Greek government strong support. «One of the topics I do want to discuss is the Olympic Games, how excited I am for your country to host the Olympic Games. I wish I could attend, but this is a political season. So, instead, I’m sending my father to lead our delegation,» Bush told Karamanlis during a photo opportunity before the two delegations had a working lunch at the White House. «I want to thank you for your very close cooperation, working together to make sure the Games are successful, that people are able to travel to your beautiful country in as secure an environment as possible. You’re making very good progress, Mr Prime Minister, and I appreciate your hard work. I know your intentions are to have this the best possible Games, and for that, I’m grateful,» Bush said. Karamanlis added, «I would like to take the opportunity to say that we are doing everything humanly possible in terms of energy, resources and professionals, to secure really successful Games, and I’m confident we’ll succeed.» After the lunch, Karamanlis told reporters: «We discussed a number of issues of bilateral and international interest. I believe this visit reaffirms the very good relations between the two countries and the will that exists for even closer cooperation.» Aside from the Olympics, he said they discussed the Cyprus issue, Greek-Turkish ties and Southeastern Europe. «International terrorism remains a source of insecurity for all of us and this has to be dealt with decisively and this is something that concerns cooperation among all of us. No country can do this alone, we all have to act together,» Karamanlis said. Regarding Cyprus, where Greek Cypriots last month rejected a UN reunification plan, Karamanlis said, «I had the opportunity to tell President Bush that irrespective of the result of the referendum… it is very important that we remain fixed on the target of reunifying the island.» Karamanlis was to hold a news conference in the early hours of this morning, Greek time. He returns today.

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