- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 31, 2001

NICOSIA, Cyprus Greece has mounted a diplomatic campaign to reconcile Western objectives in Afghanistan with a growing reluctance of Muslim countries to support the war against terrorism.
After visiting Syria and attending the Mediterranean Forum in Morocco, Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou is due in Islamabad tomorrow for talks with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. He then is due to visit Tehran.
Greek officials say the objective of the Tehran trip is to "bring Iran closer to the international coalition against terrorism."
Greece regards Iran as a potentially major factor in the war against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.
A Greek Foreign Ministry official said Mr. Papandreou will convey the message "of the political will of all the European Union members for the strengthening of relations with Iran and Pakistan."
Mr. Papandreou on Monday attended a meeting of the EU's General Affairs Council in Luxembourg, where the main theme was the threat of international terrorism and the means of combating it.
The Luxembourg meeting also discussed the situation in the Balkans, particularly the future of the so-called stability pact intended to reconstruct the area after recent conflicts. The pact is based largely on a Greek initiative in cooperation with Germany.
The intense activity of the popular, U.S.-born Greek foreign minister follows a reshuffling of the socialist government of Prime Minister Costas Simitis. The new Cabinet consists of 48 ministers and deputy ministers one of the biggest in Greek history.
Mr. Papandreou has kept his post with the theme of projecting Greece as a major link between Western Europe and the predominantly Muslim Mediterranean countries. Diplomats say he has the total backing of the prime minister, who would like Greece to play a greater role on the international scene.
Combating terrorism is one of the new Cabinet's major preoccupations, particularly in view of the 2004 Olympics to be held in Athens.
The United States in the past has criticized Greece for not doing enough in security matters, particularly against the November 17 terrorist group, blamed for the deaths of four Americans at the U.S. Embassy in Athens in a series of incidents since 1974.
Immediately after the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, Mr. Simitis pledged total cooperation with the United States in the struggle against Osama bin Laden's Afghan-based terrorists.
His commitment caused some bitter criticism by the radical wing of his ruling Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) and some of the country's left-wing press.
Government officials insist that Mr. Simitis has not given Washington a "blank check" in the anti-terrorist campaign because Greece participates in the decision-making process.
Meanwhile, officials in Athens yesterday said the Olympics-minded Cabinet changes last week were necessary to tackle unexpected problems that came up during preparations for the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Mr. Simitis appointed seven deputy ministers with exclusive duties related to the Games.

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