NATO nod for Games security

BRUSSELS (AFP) – NATO has given the green light to reinforce security for the Athens Olympic Games via a range of means, including surveillance aircraft, alliance chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said yesterday. «Yesterday, NATO formally agreed to Greece’s request for assistance for the Olympics,» the Dutch secretary-general told reporters in advance of a NATO summit in Istanbul on Monday and Tuesday. «I’m pleased by this very concrete manifestation of NATO solidarity,» he said. «This assistance does not mean NATO is now in charge of security during the Olympics – NATO is, of course, supporting the Greek efforts.» The decision, which was reached at a meeting of NATO ambassadors on Wednesday, was expected after Greece requested the alliance’s help in safeguarding the Olympics after the March 11 bombings in Madrid. The plans involve AWACS surveillance plans, NATO’s Mediterranean fleet and the alliance’s battalion for biochemical warfare. Greece will spend over a billion euros on Olympic security, deploying some 70,000 security personnel.