NEWS

In Brief

CYPRUS TALKS

PM meets with Kyprianou in Athens to assess progress Prime Minister George Papandreou met with visiting Cyprus Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou at the Maximos Mansion yesterday ahead of the premier’s scheduled visit to Nicosia on Monday. The two men discussed the progress of the latest round of United Nations-mediated peace talks on the divided island between Cyprus President Dimitris Christofias and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat. The latest opinion polls show Talat to be trailing his opposition rival Dervis Eroglu ahead of elections in the island’s Turkish-occupied north on April 18. Eroglu has taken a tougher stance toward Nicosia and his election would be broadly seen as a setback for peace talks. HOSTAGE RETURNING Lerounis due back tomorrow Athanasios Lerounis, the Greek aid volunteer who was held hostage by the Taliban for eight months, is due to arrive in Athens tomorrow on the prime-ministerial jet following his release earlier this week. Lerounis, a teacher who has been working with the Kalash tribe in the Hindu Kush mountains of Afghanistan, was released earlier this week after months of negotiations in which Pakistani officials also took part. Lerounis, who was being hosted at the Greek Embassy in Islamabad, spoke to Prime Minister George Papandreou yesterday but has said that he does not want to speak publicly about his experience. Collection fraudsters The child protection group Hamogelo tou Paidiou (Child’s Smile) yesterday called on residents of the broader Piraeus area to be on the lookout for two fraudsters who have been approaching pedestrians to collect donations, ostensibly on behalf of the charity. According to the organization, two men have been asking locals for donations supposedly to go toward an operation for a 4-year-old boy with a life-threatening disease. Police were given descriptions of the perpetrators but had failed to trace them by late yesterday. It was unclear how much the alleged fraudsters have netted. Hidden drugs Police on Crete yesterday detained a 54-year-old man after finding 3.5 kilograms of cannabis hidden in several small barrels in a forest close to his home in the port of Hania. Officers also seized a pair of scales and 500 euros in cash from the suspect who has been detained in the past on drug-related charges and is believed to be a dealer in the area. In a related development police arrested a 24-year-old Bulgarian woman in Thessaloniki in connection with suspected heroin dealing. Officers found nearly half a kilogram of the drug hidden in a plastic container in the base of a road sign on the Thessaloniki-Kilkis national road. Hooligan arrests Two Georgian men, wanted by Interpol for alleged participation in violence at soccer matches, have been traced in Thessaloniki, police in the northern city said yesterday. The men, aged 29 and 30, were located in the city center, according to police who said one had been carrying a gun. The Greek police have launched proceedings for the pair to be extradited to their homeland.