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Athens News Agency: News in English, 03-09-17
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 FM and US counterpart Colin Powell discuss Cyprus, Olympic Games security, Iraq17/09/2003 23:07:20
WASHINGTON (ANA - T. Ellis) - Foreign Minister George Papandreou stressed the need for the resumption of negotiations on the Cyprus issue based on the Annan plan, in 30-minute talks with his US counterpart Colin Powell at the State Department on Wednesday.
The issue of security for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games was also raised, while Powell reportedly had a positive approach to the preparations of the Greek authorities so far, which are cooperating closely with the US and other countries having necessary knowhow and experience.
Also discussed was the volatile situation prevailing in the Balkans and Papandreou stressed the need for the continuation of close cooperation between the US and the European Union, which has proved to be effective so far.
Developments in the Middle East and Iraq were probed in depth. The Greek foreign minister assessed that past disagreements can be overcome and an agreement can ultimately be reached between the US and the Franco-German axis for the issuing of a Security Council resolution providing the UN with a substantive role and contributing to the country's reconstruction.
In statements after the talks, Papandreou said he had a constructive discussion with Powell in the framework of regular contacts Greece has with the US at a bilateral level.
''However, we focused our discussion on issues of direct Greek interest such as the Cyprus issue, developments and possible initiatives and possibilities we have to utilise a new dynamic. Dynamic on the ground,'' he said.
Papandreou further said ''there are Turkish Cypriots who are requesting to participate in this wider union (EU) in a united Cyprus, (as I ascertained from) meetings I also had with all sides, particularly with the Cypriot government of course, political forces, as well as the society of citizens and the Turkish Cypriots' opposition. All this, of course, was placed in the framework of Turkey's course towards the European Union, which the US is also very well aware of.''
 Piraeus Bank announces purchase of Interbank NY17/09/2003 23:06:09
Piraeus Bank Group on Wednesday announced that its subsidiary in New York, Marathon Banking Corporation, signed an agreement to purchase 98.56 percent of Interbank NY for an undisclosed sum.
Interbank operates a branch network of five units in the city of New York located in Brooklyn, Astoria, Queens and Park Avenue. Its assets total 282 million US dollars, deposits total 257 million dollars and lending total 140 million euros. The bank reported profits totalling 4.7 million US dollars in 2002, with pre-tax equity capital return of 21 percent.
A Piraeus Bank statement said the strategic move was aimed to merge Interbank with Marathon Bank because of the complementary nature of their network and their expertise in commercial real estate and retail banking services.
The merger is expected to create a bank worth 600 million US dollars, with a network of 11 branches and significant scale economics that will boost Piraeus Bank's presence in the US market.
The Group expects that foreign banking activities would account at least 15 percent of its profits in 2004.
 Youth Parliament ends this year's session17/09/2003 21:34:17
This year's Youth Parliament came to a close on Wednesday in the presence of President Kostis Stephanopoulos and party leaders, with youth ''deputies'' presenting their views on a variety of issues.
Referring to educational issues, speakers expressed dissatisfaction over the majority of teachers who are either indifferent or distant and harsh.
The Youth Parliament once again proposed that teachers should be assessed by pupils themselves and noted that school books are monotonous and partial and require modernisation and reviewing as regards their objectiveness.
Other issues referred to were globalisation, the Iraq war, the problems faced by farmers and the Cyprus issue on which Greek Cypriot pupils had the first say.
They said the Annan plan needs improvement in the direction of the adoption of the acquis communautaire, while the wish was expressed for the Turkish Cypriot opposition to win the ''elections'' due to take place in Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus in December.
A delegation of speakers visited Prime Minister Costas Simitis' office in Parliament, where one girl told him ''we might be your successors'' and he replied ''why not.''
President Stephanopoulos also received a Youth Parliament delegation at the Presidential Mansion.
 Titles 417/09/2003 21:13:42
 Event held marking exactly one year before opening ceremony of Paralympics17/09/2003 21:11:28
The opening ceremony of the Paralympics will take place in exactly one year from now and to mark the occasion, Athens Organising Committee (ATHOC) President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki during a special event at the Conference Centre of the Organising Committee on Wednesday presented the medal and mascot of the Paralympics.
Athens 2004 President Angelopoulos-Daskalaki noted that ''Athens 2004 is the first Organising Committee which has jointly undertaken the preparation of both the events, the Olympic Games and the Paralympics.''
The opening ceremony of the 12th Paralympics will be on September 17, 2004 and the closing ceremony on September 28,2004.
A record number of athletes will take part in the Paralympics in Athens, the ATHOC chief said. Specifically, taking part will be 4,000 athletes from 142 countries - a record number in the history of the Paralympics.
On his part, Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos said during the event that ''for us, the hosting of the Paralympics does not only simply have the equal importance with that of the Olympic Games, but double, as the moral achievement is double. It is an athletic achievement but also a social achievement.''
A seahorse named Proteas is the mascot which was presented during the event. One side of the medal depicts the emblem and the serial number of the 2004 Paralympics, the city and the year in the Greek language, but also with the Braille. The other side of the medal depicts the Acropolis.
 Taxis stage 48-hour strike until Friday17/09/2003 19:14:35
Taxi drivers in Athens and Attica have launched a 48-hour strike that ends on Friday at five o'clock in the morning, their union said in a statement.
The drivers are protesting against a government plan to make the use of electronic cash registers in their vehicles mandatory from January 1, 2004; and against the government's refusal to allow taxis to use bus lanes.
The government has said it will not backtrack on receipts.
Taxi drivers, who are also seeking a rise in tariffs, are due to stage another stoppage beginning on Monday.
 Foreign Exchange Rates - Thursday17/09/2003 18:51:52
Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank
U.S. dollar 1.130
Pound sterling 0.705
Danish kroner 7.488
Swedish kroner 9.150
Japanese yen 131.6
Swiss franc 1.561
Norwegian kroner 8.274
Cyprus pound 0.588
Canadian dollar 1.546
Australian dollar 1.702
 Weather Forecast: Warm and sunny on Thursday17/09/2003 18:30:23
All parts of the country will be warm and sunny, with some scattered cloud in the east and south. Winds variable, light to moderate. In the north, temperatures will range from 10C to 27C; on the rest of the mainland from 14C to 28C; and in the Aegean islands from 18C to 26C. Temperatures in Athens between 16C and 28C; and in Thessaloniki from 15C to 27C.
 Greek stocks end higher on Wednesday17/09/2003 16:49:56
Greek stocks ended higher on Wednesday reversing a several-day decline in the Athens Stock Exchange with market sentiment improved by a positive trend in international markets.
The general index ended 1.79 percent higher at 2,062.38 points, reflecting a 4.67 percent jump in National Bank's share price.
Turnover was an improved 170.7 million euros.
All sector indices ended higher with the IT Solutions (3.74 percent), Textile (3.41 percent) and Bank (3.24 percent) sectors scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks jumped 2.12 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index ended 1.82 percent higher and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index rose 2.17 percent.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 272 to 63 with another 29 issues unchanged.
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