NEWS

Pakistan ties are strengthened

Pakistan and Greece are looking to strengthen their cooperation, the countries’ two prime ministers said in Athens yesterday, but they did not field questions about the alleged abduction of Pakistani migrants last year. Greece and Pakistan signed an agreement to work together in the area of tourism and discussed the possibility of passing on agricultural know-how, particularly with regard to the production of olive oil. The two countries also agreed to exchange information on terrorism. «Terrorism is a scourge we must fight in every form,» said Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz. «Greece and Pakistan have similar views on that and we have agreed to share our knowledge on this issue.» Pakistan has traditionally been seen to have closer ties with Turkey than Greece, so yesterday’s meeting between Aziz and Greek Premier Costas Karamanlis was deemed a useful opportunity to bolster relations, government sources said. However, the two men did not take any questions from reporters at their press conference, meaning that Aziz’s views on claims that Pakistani migrants were kidnapped and questioned in Greece last year remained private. Meanwhile, the government reaffirmed its backing of Culture Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis, who was public order minister at the time of the alleged kidnappings. Voulgarakis had vehemently denied that the abductions took place, calling the matter a «provocation or farce.» After weekend reports, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros denied that Voulgarakis had held secret meetings with US agents at the time of the alleged kidnappings. Voulgarakis said that he was being unfairly targeted by opposition politicians.