Clinton to miss talks on Corfu

Greece’s preparations for the meetings of NATO and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) foreign ministers on Corfu later this week was dealt a blow yesterday when US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton revealed she would not be able to attend. Sources said Clinton contacted Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis to inform her that she would not be coming to the meeting due to a recent injury. Clinton underwent surgery on Friday to repair a broken right elbow. Under Secretary of State William Burns will lead the American delegation on Corfu instead. Clinton’s absence seems to dent Greece’s hopes of a breakthrough in talks between Russian and NATO representatives, which are due to take place on Saturday, a day after the OSCE meeting. The US secretary of state had been due to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Saturday during a NATO-Russia ministerial meeting, the first since the war in Georgia last year. However, Bakoyannis insisted yesterday that the NATO-Russia meeting was still significant. «We believe this dialogue is necessary and that every channel of communication is useful,» she told The Associated Press. Clinton’s absence will be the second no-show that Greek diplomats have had to deal with in the space of a week, albeit in different circumstances, after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan pulled out of a visit to Athens on Saturday. Erdogan had been due to attend the opening of the New Acropolis Museum but at the last minute said he was too ill too travel. Diplomatic sources in Athens said that Erdogan’s failure to make the trip was seen as a reaction to the outcome of an EU leaders’ meeting on Friday when pressure was put on Turkey to fulfill the migrant repatriation agreements it had signed. Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc insisted on Sunday that Erdogan, 55, was forced to cancel his trip because of problems with his blood pressure.