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Athens News Agency: News in English, 05-04-28

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Greek defence minister stresses satisfaction with results of U.S. visit
  • [02] U.S. State Department says Annan plan is 'best solution for Cyprus'
  • [03] Easter exodus begins with heightened traffic on national highways

  • [01] Greek defence minister stresses satisfaction with results of U.S. visit

    WASHINGTON (ANA - A. Ellis) Greece's defence minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos stressed his satisfaction with the results of his trip to the United States, during a press conference in Washington that wrapped up his three-day official visit on Wednesday.

    "We gained the general impression that Greece's role is upgraded, something that was confirmed several times in all our talks, and which is expected to be sealed during the upcoming official visit by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis to [Washington]," the minister said.

    "We depart with a sense that the talks that took place here were very useful for both sides and that our cooperation will not stop here," he added.

    He particularly emphasised the briefing he had given U.S. officials in Washington regarding Turkey's behaviour in the Aegean, noting that this caused problems both to Turkey's own European prospects and to general stability, peace and security in the region.

    "These past days we added another page of particular value to the history of Greek-American relations, on the basis of mutual understanding, honesty and trust," he said.

    The minister, who concluded a round of contacts in Washington by meeting U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, said he had been able to once again confirm the important role played by Greece in the Balkans and the surrounding areas, where Greece participated in peace-keeping missions.

    "Greece's participation in peace-keeping missions was a matter of special reference with everyone we spoke with, because our presence and our contribution is truly active and effective," he said.

    The minister said that he had also informed the U.S. side of Greek plans to establish a NATO Naval Training Centre at Souda, in accordance with the new NATO structure decided two years earlier, and a Strategic Maritime Transport Centre in Athens that will cooperate with Greek shipowners to lease the fastest and most modern vessels in the Greek commercial fleet for EU and NATO strategic transport needs, on condition that such missions fall within the framework of United Nations Security Council resolutions.

    Asked whether Rumsfeld had raised the issue of Greek participation in the peacekeeping operations in Iraq, the Greek minister said that both Iraq and Afghanistan had been discussed during the meeting.

    He said that the U.S. side had thanked Greece for its contribution in Iraq, even though it had not sent any troops, since it had contributed about 300,000 euros toward the training of Iraqi forces, equivalent to one tenth of the total cost.

    [02] U.S. State Department says Annan plan is 'best solution for Cyprus'

    WASHINGTON (ANA - A. Ellis) The deputy spokesman for the U.S. State Department Adam Ereli on Wednesday said that Washington continued to support the Annan plan as the "best solution for Cyprus". He was responding to questions on whether the U.S. government might put pressure on Turkey to leave Cyprus and implement U.N. resolutions after 31 years of occupation.

    "As you know, our policy with regard to Cyprus is that the best solution for Cyprus is the Annan plan. And that, the Annan plan, provided a way forward that we believed met the needs of both communities [on the island]," Ereli said.

    "Those who are committed to a peaceful and equitable solution to this longstanding problem would do well to re-dedicate themselves to the Annan plan and to moving forward with the Annan plan and to finding a way to implement its recommendations," he added.

    [03] Easter exodus begins with heightened traffic on national highways

    The Easter exodus from Athens and other major cities in Greece began early on Thursday morning, with heightened traffic loads reported between 6:00-8:00 along the Athens-Corinth national highway.

    The flow of traffic evened out from about 8:30 onward, traffic police reported, though remaining steadily higher than usual.

    According to the public order ministry, policing is heaviest at danger spots along the road network, where the accident rate is highest, while all four sections of the national highway traffic police operating at the Maliakos 'horseshoe', Tempe, Kiato in Corinth and Egio have been placed on full alert.

    The measures, which include the deployment of 2626 officers, 904 patrol cars, 81 plain cars, 270 motorcycles and 20 tow-trucks on national highways, will be in place until the Sunday after Easter.

    There will also be fixed and changing police teams to check traffic and catch dangerous traffic violations during peak hours, in order to prevent accidents, in addition to teams within Athens from Thursday afternoon.

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