NEWS

In Brief

IRAQI DUES

Greece agrees to erase 80 percent of the debt owed to it by Iraq Greece has agreed to write off 80 percent of the debt owed to it by Iraq, Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis said yesterday. He revealed the measure after the first day of an international meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, where more than 50 countries agreed to a five-year economic plan sponsored by the United Nations to help Iraq, known as the International Compact with Iraq. Stylianidis said that Greece had already contributed 14.5 million euros in humanitarian aid to Iraq. He said that writing off most of Iraq’s debt to Greece «shows the good intentions and affection of the Greek people toward the Iraqi people.» Stylianidis did not indicate the size of Iraq’s debt but he did clarify that the measure did not extend to private debts owed by Iraqi citizens. HISTORY BOOK Athens Academy report slams ‘weak’ primary school tome A controversial primary school history book, which has been lambasted for allegedly glossing over key events in Greece’s history, has «major weaknesses,» according to a report by the Athens Academy. The authors of the report are not calling for the book to be withdrawn but for its «adequacy as an educational tool» to be assessed. The history book’s authors have already agreed to review the text over the summer following an outcry from the Church of Greece, as well as certain Greek historians and journalists. According to the report, the book contains a number of inaccuracies and crucial omissions. AMMUNITION PLANT Illegal unit found in Thessaloniki Police yesterday uncovered an illegal ammunition production plant operating out of a storage facility that kept food for livestock in Thessaloniki. Police said they found about 350 kilos of dynamite at the plant which had been making cartridges for hunting rifles. More than 130,000 cartridges were confiscated and police started an investigation into local hunting equipment stores to determine whether they stocked the illegally produced ammunition. A 48-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the plant’s operation. Minister dies Cypriot Defense Minister Nikos Symeonidis died in the intensive-care department of a Nicosia hospital where he was being treated for lung problems. The 68-year-old took over the post seven months ago but has been in and out of the hospital since January after suffering a lung infection and a heart attack during a biopsy. «His death deprives me of a sincere friend and valuable associate,» Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos said in a written statement. A new defense minister was not named. Alex investigation Two new suspects in the Alex Meshivili case will be questioned by a magistrate in Thessaloniki next week, sources said yesterday. The older brother and grandfather of two brothers accused of killing the 11-year-old boy in Veria, northern Greece, last year have been charged with harboring criminals and giving false statements. This means that five children and nine adults have so far been charged in connection with the schoolboy’s disappearance. Pot plants Police arrested a 60-year-old man in Androusa, near Kalamata, after finding about 120 cannabis plants at his home. Seventeen of the plants were being grown in his living room under controlled lighting and had reached as high as 2.2 meters. Police also found about 100 smaller cannabis plants in his garden. Asthma checks Doctors will be providing free checkups to children for allergic asthma at Korai Square in central Athens tomorrow and on Sunday between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. French elections The French Embassy in Athens said yesterday that the French Institute on 31 Sina Street would open its doors to visitors this Sunday so they can watch live coverage of the French presidential election on a giant TV screen. The broadcast from the France 2 channel will begin at 8 p.m. Samos migrants Coast guard officers from Samos arrested 12 illegal immigrants in a boat off the eastern Aegean island yesterday morning, the Merchant Marine Ministry said.