NEWS

US vows to back Olympics security

WASHINGTON (Combined reports) – Against the backdrop of worldwide terrorism, the United States has offered Greece all the experts and training it requests to ensure security at the 2004 Olympics, the Greek minister for public order said on Tuesday. Advisers in dealing with chemical and biological weapons will be included as Greece prepares to train 50,000 police and other security personnel, Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis said after a second day of talks with Bush administration officials. The minister discussed security arrangements with CIA Director George Tenet, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, White House terrorism specialist John Gordon, and Francis Taylor, the head of the State Department’s office to counter terrorism. In September, Prime Minister Costas Simitis announced that Greece had dismantled the November 17 terrorist organization following the arraignment of the group’s alleged chief assassin. Simitis also vowed to wipe out all other domestic terrorist groups, including several which have been operating for decades and are thought to be associated with November 17. «We will deal thoroughly with this issue of terrorism. There may be some fragments of November 17 left and sister organizations, but we will shed light on all of them,» Simitis told a news conference. Chrysochoidis said on Tuesday that «after this happy end we closed the book» on the group that, despite its small size, had carried out 22 assassinations. «In the last two years we changed the atmosphere, the climate,» he said. «The public opinion is now against terrorism» and tips on terrorists are flowing in through a new «hot line.» Still, he said, Greece, with a large illegal immigration population, is on the alert to new threats. Greece also has about 50,000 Muslims, and «we haven’t had any problem with this population,» he said. Nor, he said, is there any evidence that the Al Qaeda terror network has cells in Greece, although «we heard some networks were moving about in the 1990s.» Still, the minister said, «we have plans to take in every danger the human mind can predict.» Greece plans to spend $1 billion on security for the Olympics, and has received offers of advice from Britain, Spain, Israel, Australia, Germany and France, and America, he said. «The USA has a big interest in the Olympic Games,» he said. «They have decided to give us all the experts we need.» US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage «expressed… appreciation for Greece’s contributions to the war on terrorism and the need for the international coalition to remain steadfast against continuing terrorist threats,» spokesman Richard Boucher said on Tuesday. (AP, AFP)