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20 December, 2000
Beginning the first ever-official visit to Nepal by a Greek foreign minister on Tuesday, George Papandreou had a series of meetings with the leadership of this Himalayan country, one of the poorest in the world.
In statements to the ANA, Nepalese Foreign Minister Chakra Prasad Banstola said that his country looked to Greece to become Nepal's voice within the European Union, from which it seeks access for its products to European markets and not just "rhetoric for the poor".
"We are trying to combine ways of dealing with the problems of globalization and the challenge of development," he added.
Sandwiched between rival nuclear powers China, India and Pakistan, mountainous Nepal tries to keep equal distances from Beijing and New Delhi, even though there are closer cultural links to India. Asked about the nuclear rivalry between his neighbors, Banstola said only:
"We live in the shadow of nuclear powers. We hope that an Asian nuclear arms race does not begin."
Nepal also seeks the EU's intervention with its neighbor Bhutan, which it accuses of trying to drive out its ethnic Nepalese community and for this reason refusing to take back tens of thousands of Bhutanese refugees currently living in camps within Nepal's borders.
With regard to Greek-Nepalese bilateral relations, Katmandu invited investments in hydroelectric projects, where it estimates a capacity that would allow the eventual export of electricity to China and India.
It also invited Greek participation in upcoming telecoms privatization tenders and in the tourism sector.
For its part, Nepal supported Athens in its unsuccessful candidacy to become a member of the UN Security Council and pledges to support it again in 2005, while it is also interested in Athens' support for its own candidacy in 2007.
Finally, Papandreou and Banstola discussed cultural and tourism issues.
FM comments on Cyprus on Nepal visit:
Greece's foreign minister George Papandreou on Tuesday said Greece condemned recent moves by the Turkish occupation troops on Cyprus.
"We condemn those moves. We will brief all the authoritative organizations, beginning with the UN and the European Union, on the matter," Papandreou said in Katmandu, while on an official visit to Nepal.
Tension rose in the mixed Cypriot town of Pyla, located in the UN-controlled buffer zone surrounded by Greek Cypriots on the south, Turkish Cypriots on the north and British sovereign base areas on the east, on the weekend after Turkish troops constructed new fortifications in the area.
The tension was further fuelled on Monday following reports that Turkish occupation troops had threatened to shoot Greek Cypriot journalists from filming the fortifications.
"These moves indicate the impasse of the Turkish side in front of the new state of affairs, the international and European demand for a solution of the Cyprus issue, and Cyprus' positive course towards EU membership," Papandreou said.
"We expect that it will finally be realized that such an attitude does not conform with the new framework in Turkey-EU relations," the Greek foreign minister said.
Source: Athens News Agency