Talks with Obama aides being lined up

The Greek government has made its first official contact with US President Barack Obama’s administration and face-to-face talks are likely to take place toward the end of this month, but it remains unclear if Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will meet with the former Illinois senator in March. Sources told Kathimerini that Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis spoke with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over the telephone last week. During the conversation, a number of issues were raised, including Cyprus, the Middle East, the Balkans and Greece’s presidency of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Sources said that Greece’s good relations with Russia were also discussed, as the USA believes that Athens may prove a useful link between Washington and Moscow. It was also decided that Bakoyannis will travel to Washington for talks with Vice President Joe Biden as well as Clinton and members of Congress between February 23 and 26. Another visit by a Greek official is being lined up for April. Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis is due to travel to New York on April 26 for a parade by members of the Greek-American community. The following day, he will go to Washington to discuss Greece’s interest in buying more US jet fighters and its involvement in NATO operations, especially in Afghanistan. However, it still remains unclear if Karamanlis will get the chance to meet with Obama a month earlier. The Greek prime minister is keen to travel to the USA to join in the Greek-American community’s March 25 Independence Day celebrations and use it as an opportunity to hold talks with the new US President. The White House has yet to clarify whether such a meeting can take place.