US official calls for swift solution as Athens repeats appeal to Skopje The US ambassador to NATO, Victoria Nuland, yesterday called for a solution to the Macedonia name dispute «within days or weeks but not months» as Athens reiterated its appeal to Skopje to come back to the negotiating table. Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said the road to finding a mutually acceptable solution would be «long and hard» but stressed that talks should resume as soon as possible «without rivalry.» There were no official comments from Skopje, where the country’s ruling party is gearing up for early elections. (Page 2) Pollution Asopos River has contaminated water in nearby areas, new study shows Toxic pollution from the Asopos River, central Greece, has contaminated the water table in neighboring Sykamino and Avlida, according to a scientific study whose results were made public yesterday. «There are signs of increased toxic levels in these areas,» said Haris Smyrniotis of the Institute of Geology and Mineral Exploration (IGME). The IGME report blames central and local authorities for failing to protect water resources. The local prefecture is also blamed for allegedly protecting the interests of local businesses believed to be illegally dumping their toxic waste into the river. Transplants rise Operations up 50 percent this year The number of transplant operations performed in Greece in the first quarter of the year rose by more than 50 percent in comparison to last year, to 50, according to data made public yesterday. Health authorities said 36 operations were kidney transplants while 12 patients received a new liver. Doctors also performed four heart transplants. Authorities said that Greeks appear to be more open to offering the organs of relatives that have passed away for transplant operations. In Greece, there are currently 914 patients on the waiting list for a kidney transplant. Hidden heroin In one of the biggest heroin hauls to ever take place in Greece, coast guard officers revealed yesterday that they have arrested a British national in the northwestern port of Igoumenitsa after finding 22.5 kilos of the drug hidden in his car as he was about to board a ferry for Italy. The man allegedly drove to Igoumenitsa from Turkey with the heroin hidden in 44 packets in a secret compartment in his car. The suspect was not named but authorities said that he was a 35-year-old man of Kurdish origin. Suicide A 32-year-old Albanian man committed suicide yesterday after shooting his former girlfriend, a Briton, and her new boyfriend, a Greek, and seriously injuring them, police on Rhodes said. The assailant allegedly shot the 22-year-old four times as she walked through a park with her 24-year-old boyfriend, who was also shot. He then shot himself in the head, police said. Carnivores Greeks have a keen appetite for meat, with more than a third (37.4 percent) eating it three or four times a week, according to a new study carried out for the Agriculture Ministry. Men are the most regular consumers of meat, with 71.7 percent of men aged up to 22 eating meat between three and seven times per week. The consumption of meat, particularly red meat, is significantly higher in provincial areas, the study showed. Migrant reception Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos defended Greece’s treatment of illegal immigrants yesterday, saying that there are plans to build two new reception centers for migrants. One will be in southern Crete, the other on the island of Kos. Roussopoulos said that two recently built centers, on Samos and in Evros, had been working well and had received a positive reaction from the European Commission. Card racket Police arrested three foreign nationals in Tempi, near central Greece’s Larissa, for allegedly stealing from bank accounts after copying ATM cards and PIN numbers. The male suspects, aged 33, 30 and 29, were found in possession of 65 forged cards and nearly 8,000 euros in cash. They obtained account details and PIN numbers by attaching hidden scanning devices to ATM machines. Police are trying to determine which banks and accounts have been targeted by the gang.