NEWS

In Brief

‘No elections’

PM rules out early polls, says priority is global crisis impact Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis yesterday emphatically ruled out the possibility of early elections, stating that tackling the impact of the global financial crisis was his priority. «I have made it clear that the issue (of elections) is not our concern… elections are not on my mind,» Karamanlis said in a speech before New Democracy’s youth wing ONNED. «What really concerns us is dealing with the impact of the global crisis on our country,» he said, noting that his government would «focus on today’s needs without undermining the economy.» Vessel hijacked Greek ship taken off Somalia A Greek-owned, Maltese-flagged cargo ship was seized by pirates of the coast of Somalia yesterday, the Merchant Marine Ministry said. The Saldanha, whose cargo is coal, had been bound for Slovenia. The nationality of its 22 crew members was unclear yesterday. Last month sailors on board a Greek-flagged crude oil tanker managed to fight off two attempts by pirates to board their ship off the coast of Somalia by using water jets and with the help of a new European Union force. Trucker talks Unionists representing protesting truck drivers who have been blocking border crossings in northern Greece since the end of last week are today due to have talks with Transport Ministry officials in Athens. Truckers, who temporarily lifted their blockade at the Bulgarian crossing of Promachonas on Sunday morning, want authorities to intensify inspections on unlicensed transport companies and crack down on illegal immigrants sneaking onto their vehicles. On Saturday, police in Lamia stopped four trucks that had smuggled 28 Bangladeshi illegal immigrants into the country from Turkey. The truckers, whose nationalities were not revealed, were arrested. Foreign affairs Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis flew to the US yesterday for an official visit that is to culminate in talks with her US counterpart Hillary Clinton on Wednesday at the State Department in Washington. The two diplomats are to discuss issues including the Cyprus problem, among other issues. Sources in Athens said that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis is planning to visit Nicosia at the end of April for a briefing on the progress of the latest round of talks aimed at solving the Cyprus problem. Weekend robberies Two gunmen raided a gas station on the highway linking Thessaloniki to Veria early on Saturday, netting some 4,000 euros after threatening the station attendant at gunpoint. There were no reports of injuries. Meanwhile in Karditsa, central Greece, two intruders wearing Carnival masks broke into the home of a 59-year-old man and stole more than 8,500 euros as well as some jewelry. The man was beaten but did not suffer serious injuries. Bank raid A group of assailants caused serious damage to a bank in central Thessaloniki early on Saturday after pelting it with Molotov-cocktail bombs. There were no reports of injuries.