NEWS

‘A very good meeting’

President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Costas Simitis, in a meeting at the White House yesterday, discussed the full range of issues that concern their two countries, both on a bilateral and international level. «I had very friendly discussions with President Bush, on problems concerning both countries,» Simitis told reporters after the meeting. «We had a very good meeting, very friendly and sincere talks on issues that concern us,» he added. «First of all is the problem of terrorism. We share the conviction that terrorism has to be fought effectively and drastically everywhere in the world, because if we do not achieve a good result terrorism will appear again,» Simitis said. «I believe there is determination from all sides to proceed with this.» The two men also discussed Southeastern Europe and the Balkans, «the continuing need for the presence of the United States and the role played by Greece in terms of the region’s stability,» Simitis said. «We discussed bilateral relations, which are exceptionally good… We discussed also how we see developments, with regard to life and things,» Simitis said. «I think this meeting confirmed a good climate.» Other issues were Cyprus and the Olympic Games. «Greece is a small country but we have done a lot of work and all the things are taking their course,» with regard to the Athens 2004 Olympics, Simitis said. «I invited President Bush to attend the Olympic Games. There will also be baseball there and he should be there for the first throw,» Simitis said. At the start of a day in Washington packed with meetings, Simitis held a 15-minute telephone conversation with Vice President Dick Cheney and was to meet later with Secretary of State Colin Powell and Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld. Bilateral relations, terrorism, Cyprus, the EU’s efforts to create a rapid reaction force, the Athens 2004 Olympics and Greek-Turkish relations were on the agenda of talks with all the officials. Simitis and Cheney discussed terrorism and the EU’s force. Cheney told Simitis that the United States of America would like to see the force come into operation as soon as possible. Simitis prompted the discussion on Greece’s domestic terrorism problem, noting that there was close cooperation between Athens and Washington and expressing the optimism that soon «there will be positive results.» Regarding the EU force, Simitis said that Greece also wanted it to become operational soon, but he added that «this cannot depend on the position of third countries.» Simitis, in his conversation with Cheney and at a news conference, provided assurances that all would be done to make the Athens 2004 Olympics safe. «I would like to stress that there should be no concern over the Olympic Games of Athens 2004,» Simitis said. «President Bush and his team know very well that we are with the Americans and we are with the part of the world that has decided to fight terrorism,» Simitis told reporters at the United Nations, with regard to international terrorism. On the war against November 17, he said some gains were being made. «Since 1980-81, quite a lot of American agents, the FBI and CIA, have come to Greece. They have worked with Greek police, they had all the necessary information and the situation now is also a result of their work.» Simitis and Secretary-General Kofi Annan discussed the Cyprus issue at a meeting at the United Nations on Wednesday. Annan said that he expects the framework of a solution for the problem by the end of June. Vanished kiosk