- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 23, 2001

Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou promised yesterday that Athens, together with its European allies, will look closely in the coming months at the specifics of Bush administration plans to build a missile defense against threats by rogue nations.
"The United States seems to have decided to go ahead with such a defense but has pledged close consultations with its NATO allies on the matter," the foreign minister said at a breakfast for reporters.
He carefully avoided criticism of the proposal, which has run into strong resistance by Russia and China and has raised doubts even among Americas closest European allies.
The concern in both nuclear powers is that such a defense would undercut existing arms control treaties.
The foreign ministers conciliatory approach to the issue prompted one reporter to ask why the Greek official was not being more critical.
"We need more information and more dialogue about the U.S. plan," Mr. Papandreou replied. "So far the proposal is in its theoretical stage."
Mr. Papandreou posed several questions for which he said Greece and other European nations were waiting for answers.
"Who is the missile defense supposed to protect, just the United States, or its allies as well? What is the nature of the threat? How, specifically, will it affect treaties in place?" he asked.
The Greek official is the scion of a politically active family. His father and grandfather both served as prime ministers of Greece and together built the PanHellenic Socialist Union (PASOK), which rules Greece today.
His father, Andreas, struggled against the coup that saddled Greece with military rule from 1967 to 1974.
On Monday Mr. Papandreou met with Vice President Richard B. Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.
Also on his agenda were meetings with members of Congress and addresses to a number of think tanks including the Woodrow Wilson Center.
He arrived in New York last week, where he promoted one of Greeces pet projects for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens — a U.N.-sponsored Olympic truce.
The idea is to promote a cease-fire in areas of the world where conflict is raging.
"This is part of our Olympic heritage," Mr. Papandreou said.
"The ancient games were not just about the display of athletic skills. They were called as a way to bring about a pause in hostilities that were then tearing at heart of the Greek city states."
In addition to the obvious discussions about bilateral relations, including the thorny question of whether Greece is doing enough to combat terrorism, the Greek diplomat discussed with his American counterparts the situation in the Balkans.
The question of how long U.S. forces will remain in Bosnia and Kosovo became a political football during last years campaign, as Bush associates signaled opposition to an open-ended U.S. commitment.


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