- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 23, 2002

Security and Cyprus

Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou arrives in Washington today for high-level talks on security, terrorism and Cyprus.

He will meet Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley. Tomorrow he holds talks with Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage.

Mr. Papandreou will discuss Greece's participation in the international coalition against terrorism and the overall security situation in southeastern Europe and the eastern Mediterranean, the Greek Embassy said yesterday.

He will also brief the administration officials on his April visit to the Middle East. He was accompanied on that trip by Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem, which he notes is another sign of the increasingly warm relations between the two formerly rival nations.

They met Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

"Greece was also helpful in getting the Palestinians out of the church and taking two of the militants," said Greek Ambassador Alexandre Philon, referring to the end of the standoff at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

"He will discuss the future of the Middle East and where we go from here," the ambassador said.

Mr. Philon said the foreign minister will also outline plans Greece and Turkey have for improving living conditions in the Balkans. The two countries are planning to develop energy corridors to bring gas, oil and electricity to the region.

"Because of communism, they were cut off for so long. Now we have to find ways of making the infrastructure better," Mr. Philon said.

Mr. Papandreou will discuss plans for NATO expansion, the future of the alliance and its relationship with the European Union. Greece will assume the six-month rotating EU presidency in January.

He is also encouraged by the visit of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to Cyprus, where Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders are holding talks but apparently making little progress on reunifying the island.

Mr. Annan's visit "indicates a new political will to solve the tragic division of the island," Mr. Papandreou wrote in the International Herald Tribune yesterday.

He called on Turkish Cypriots to join Greek Cypriots in a unified bid to join the European Union. The Greek Cypriot administration, the internationally recognized government of Cyprus, is expected to be admitted to the union in December, even if the island remains divided. The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, recognized only by Turkey, wants to be treated as an equal to the Greek Cypriot government in a new loose confederacy.

Mr. Papandreou tried to assure Turkish Cypriots that their civil rights will be guaranteed under "specific [EU] provisions to protect all citizens."

Envoy deadlock

Israeli leaders are still deadlocked over the choice of a replacement for former Israeli Ambassador David Ivry, who left Washington more than a month ago.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres have failed to find a compromise candidate. Mr. Sharon favors Dore Gold, a former ambassador to the United Nations, but Mr. Peres considers him a hard-line diplomat from Mr. Sharon's Likud Party.

The more dovish foreign minister prefers Ephraim Halevy, a former head of the Israeli secret service, the Mossad, but would settle for Avi Braverman, a university professor, United Press International reported yesterday.

Some of Mr. Sharon's Likud colleagues are urging him to consider Avi Pazner, a former ambassador to France and a former spokesman for Yitzhak Shamir, a former Likud prime minister.

Mr. Pazner is also chairman of the United Israel Appeal, a position that gives him key contacts with American Jews.

Meanwhile, Mr. Peres is satisfied with the way the embassy is being run under Rafi Barak, the charge d'affaires, UPI said.

Development summit

Paula Dobriansky, undersecretary of state for global affairs, will lead the U.S. delegation this week to Indonesia for a planning meeting for a major summit on Third World development.

The goal of the meeting is to finalize an agenda for the World Summit on Sustainable Development in August in South Africa.

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