US notes decline in Greece but still no Nov. 17 arrests The US State Department’s report on patterns of global terrorism in 2001, released yesterday, noted that after September 11 «Greece offered noteworthy support for the antiterrorism coalition. However, it remains troubling that there have been no successful arrests and prosecutions of members of the 17 November terrorist group.» The report said the Greek Parliament «took meaningful steps to demonstrate its commitment to combating terrorism by passing a comprehensive anti-organized-crime and terrorism bill.» It said also that November 17 had not conducted any attacks in 2001 and that there were only three attacks on US targets. This was down from a high of 20 in 1999. The report also expressed criticism for Greek courts reducing sentences of «suspected Greek terrorists.» HEALTHY RELATIONS Papandreou denies claimed rift with Simitis over Thursday illness Foreign Minister George Papandreou yesterday denied that his relations with the prime minister are anything but good. This followed widespread speculation when, though the minister abstained from an important government foreign policy meeting last Thursday citing ill health, he was seen exercising at an Athens gym later that day. HIDDEN PREGNANCY Overweight mother dies, baby critical A 43-year-old Bulgarian woman who died on Monday after giving birth at a Thessaloniki hospital had reached her eighth month of pregnancy without noticing due to her obesity, reports said yesterday. The woman – who weighed double her ideal weight at 150 kilos – died due to arterial blockages and breathlessness resulting from her «malignant obesity,» a coroner’s report said. The child, which has breathing problems, is in critical condition. Mayoral politics Opposition New Democracy’s honorary chairman, former PM Constantine Mitsotakis, expressed the view yesterday that his daughter Dora Bakoyianni, who is running for mayor of Athens on the ND ticket, need not abstain from party politics if elected in the October polls. «That would be comic and hypocritical,» he told journalists. Battle of Crete Veterans from Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom will gather at Souda Bay on Saturday for the annual commemoration of the 1941 Battle of Crete. The island’s northern port of Hania will host a week of speeches, memorial ceremonies and exhibitions, culminating on Sunday. «The (battle’s) message – to resist those who use force to achieve their lawless ambitions – is as timely as ever,» Premier Costas Simitis said yesterday, adding that the battle was a stimulus for regional peace. Culture clash The Culture Ministry’s umbrella union yesterday defended protesting museum guards after Minister Evangelos Venizelos brought a suit against the guards’ union, which earlier this week announced two imminent 48-hour strikes. Museums and archaeological sites will remain closed this weekend and next if the strikes are not called off. University strike Athens University will be closed for three days from next Monday until Wednesday following yesterday’s decision by the university senate to step up protest action following the government’s refusal to raise the salaries and pensions of university staff. The Aegean University on Lesvos and the universities of Patras, Piraeus and Thessaly, as well as Crete’s Polytechnic, will also close for three days from Monday. Stowaway death A stowaway who leapt into the Gulf of Corinth from a Antiguan-flagged cargo ship yesterday morning after being discovered by the ship’s crew died in hospital a few hours after his escape attempt. Reports did not determine the cause of death of Tanzanian national John Jackson, 18. Jackson’s fellow stowaway, Maneno Hanis, 25, who also jumped off the Jonas, was last seen swimming to shore. Cyprus talks Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash yesterday had their fifth meeting in the fourth round of their so far fruitless talks on reuniting Cyprus. It was their first meeting after last week’s visit to the island by United Nations Sec retary-General Kofi Annan. The next meeting is on Friday.