18 September, 2003
WASHINGTON 18/09/2003 (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, September 17.
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 with the necessary know-how 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 utilize a new 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.''
''We discussed Balkan issues. I insisted that the Balkans have taken considerable steps, but despite the fact our attention as an international community has turned to Iraq, and the Middle East, the Balkans remain a region requiring the attention, the affection if you like, the care of the international community to enable us to consolidate stability and overcome difficult problems such as that of Kosovo,'' he said.
Referring to other issues discussed with Powell, Papandreou said ''we had the opportunity to discuss wider issues such as dialogue between the EU and the US, as well as Iraq and the Middle East in particular. The feeling I have both from last week's meetings of EU Foreign Ministers in Italy, as well as today and yesterday here in Washington is that there is a spirit, a mood in the international community, the EU with the US to see how they will help together to have the major problem existing in Iraq after the war to be overcome. There were disagreements, and indeed intense ones over the war itself. However, there is a will for a stable Iraq with a representative government and for us to ultimately reach, as soon as possible, an independent Iraq which will belong to the Iraqis.''
Asked to say whether he briefed Powell on the Aegean continental shelf issue, Papandreou said ''it strikes me that such reports exist because I did not have anything in particular to announce or to brief. In fact I did not even discuss the continental shelf issues with Mr. Powell. It is a known issue, of course. There is a process but this process has not reached a result. If we will have some result or some development we shall notify Greek public opinion immediately.''
On the question of whether there is any initiative on the issue of Cyprus on the part of the US, the foreign minister said ''Mr. Weston is continuing efforts and we hope that conditions will be ripe to enable us to support the UN secretary general once again in his own initiatives for a solution to the Cyprus issue.''
As regards Olympic Games security, Papandreou said Powell spoke positively of the aspect of security and of close cooperation existing on the issue.
Source: Athens News Agency