PM and US president-elect discuss global financial crisis Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and US President-elect Barack Obama discussed the need for the US and European Union to cooperate in tackling the fallout of the financial crisis in their first telephone conversation late on Wednesday. During the conversation, which last about 10 minutes, Obama reportedly told Karamanlis that he would like to see Greece maintain a key role in the Balkans. The US president also said that he hopes to visit Greece «in the foreseeable future,» sources said. RHODES FIRE State of emergency called after strong wind fuels blaze The General Secretariat for Civil Protection yesterday declared a state of emergency on Rhodes, in the southern Aegean, after a large forest fire was fanned by winds that reached 10 on the Beaufort scale. The blaze in Kamiros, on the island’s northwestern coast, believed to have been accidentally ignited by a farmer, had been partially contained by last night. But firemen remained on standby as the strong winds that kept water-dropping aircraft grounded had not died down. More than 150 hectares of forestland was said to have been razed but there were no reports of injuries. Ministry sit-in Health Ministry staff staging a sit-in at the ministry’s premises on central Aristotelous Street in the capital suspended their action in the afternoon after Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos pledged to recruit another 5,000 nursing staff next year to ease short-staffed hospitals. Avramopoulos also promisedd to ensure that nurses receive outstanding bonuses. Thieves caught Two men, aged 27 and 21, and a 21-year-old woman were being questioned by police yesterday in connection with a string of thefts in Athens, Piraeus, Volos and Larissa after an off-duty police officer saw them using a welding torch to try to cut through a metal fence around a church in Karditsa, central Greece, on Wednesday night. Apart from raids on stores and churches, the trio is suspected of emptying 47 vending machines. Gay marriages A Rhodes prosecutor yesterday asked a local court to overturn the country’s first gay weddings, which were carried out in civil ceremonies on the island of Tilos last summer. The prosecutor reiterated the objection, expressed by Justice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis, that Greek law and the Constitution do not refer to same-sex marriages. Crushed A municipal truck loaded with a crane crushed a 65-year-old woman to death yesterday in the Cretan port of Hania. The vehicle belonged to the municipality’s waste-processing unit. The exact circumstances of the incident were unclear. Correction Yesterday we referred to the death of author Margarita Kapranou, this should have read Margarita Karapanou. We apologize for the error.