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12 October, 2001
The new US ambassador in Athens, Thomas Miller, said Thursday that it would be useful for Greece to exercise its influence emanating from its "special relations" with such countries as Syria and Iran, for the purpose of strengthening the front against international terrorism.
Speaking to reporters after his first formal meeting with foreign minister George Papandreou, Miller said they had discussed all the latest developments following the international community's reaction to the multiple terrorist attack in the US on September 11.
The effort to locate Osama bin Laden was at the top of the agenda, Miller said, adding that the US and its government had deep confidence in the emotional support displayed by the Greek people toward the Americans.
Miller said a campaign had been launched, not simply a military action, and stressed that pressure must be exercised in every way -- financially, diplomatically, etc.
He added that the battle was not against the people of Afghanistan but the terrorists and those who were concealing them.
Miller said that the US was also making an effort to confront the problem of refugees from Afghanistan, and had approved a sum of 500 million dollars for 2001 in humanitarian assistance, of which 180 million dollars had already been drawn.
As for the West's relations with Arab countries, Miller said in reply to questions that in the United States "we have concerns and see that the world is changing, and we're changing with it". "It is a new world," he said.
Miller noted Greece's traditional special relations with Syria and Iran which dated from "the Andreas Papandreou period", and expressed hope that Athens would utilize that relationship and its influence to gain those countries' support for the international effort.
He further welcomed the Greek foreign minister's initiative to visit Middle East countries.
Papandreou briefed Miller on his visit Wednesday to Istanbul.
The two men further discussed the Middle East problem and matters concerning bilateral relations between Greece and the US.
Miller met later with main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis, who reiterated ND's firm positions on confronting terrorism.
During the one-hour meeting, Karamanlis reaffirmed ND's solidarity with the US and the entire free world "in the struggle to stamp out terrorism".
Karamanlis told reporters after the meeting that now was the time for diplomacy, adding that Greece could play a more active role within the framework of the European Union, and could undertake initiatives on wider issues.
He added that Greece, due to its extensive borders, was the only EU country exposed to dangers.
Miller said he had a very serious discussion with Karamanlis, whom he described as "a very good and old friend", and thanked the ND leader for his party's strong support for the worldwide alliance against terrorism and his tough statements against terrorists.
Source: Athens News Agency