FM may visit Iraq to boost mediator role

Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis is planning a visit to Iraq over the coming weeks as part of the government’s bid to highlight Greece’s role as a strategic ally for the USA in the broader region, sources told Kathimerini yesterday. In the wake of the recent visit to Iraq by US President Barack Obama after his trip to Turkey, and his first face-to-face talks with Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, diplomats in Athens are reportedly keen to ensure that the country is not «sidelined» and retains some geostrategic importance. It was unclear yesterday when Bakoyannis might visit Iraq, with sources saying that the visit might be carried out after the European Parliament elections next month. Bakoyannis is expected to emphasize Greece’s role as a stabilizing influence in the region at a summit of foreign ministers of the countries of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) which is due to take place on the Ionian island of Corfu at the end of July. Sources told Kathimerini that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are both likely to attend the event. Asked to comment about Obama’s expression of support for Ankara’s bid to join the European Union during his visit to Ankara earlier this week, Foreign Ministry spokesman Giorgos Koumoutsakos yesterday remarked that Greece had a stable policy of support for Turkey’s European aspirations and that this had not changed. Greek diplomats welcomed Obama’s appeal to Ankara to reopen the Halki Orthodox Seminary near Istanbul but were ruffled by the president’s failure to visit Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios at his base at the Phanar district, inviting the holy man to his hotel instead.

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