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12 February, 2002
Prime Minister Costas Simitis, addressing American journalists during a briefing breakfast here on Friday, referred to the November 17 terrorist organization saying that hard and systematic work is being done from which positive results are being expected.
The prime minister said his talks with U.S. President George W. Bush, Secretaries of State and Defense Powell and Rumsfeld and his telephone conversation with Vice President Cheney were substantive and fruitful.
He said that he highlighted Greece's role in the Balkans, Greece's economic performance and its entry into the Eurozone, progress in Greek-Turkish relations and Greece's participation in the campaign against international terrorism.
Simitis, focusing on the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, said that despite the fact Greece is a small country and difficulties and delays had occurred in the past, preparations are back on track in accordance with the timetables.
He also expressed confidence that "Greece will host excellent, safe and successful games, giving a new more human dimension to the Games, with less commercialization."
On the question of the Olympic Games' security, Simitis told journalists that Greece had had a specific plan of action long before the September 11 terrorist attacks.
The American journalists concentrated their attention primarily on the issue of terrorism and "November 17", which Simitis termed "a small group lacking sentimental and ideological ties with the people."
He said Greece is making efforts and desires the arrests of those responsible "because above all it is Greece itself that is interested in the eradication of terrorism and this will be an immense success for the government at home."
Referring to the Balkans, Simitis spoke of the necessity of the presence of the U.S. in the region as a source of stability."
Regarding Greece's participation in the struggle against international terrorism, Greek public opinion and some anti-Americanism in particular, Simitis presented opinion polls to the American journalists showing that in no way do the Greek people support terrorism and steadfastly back its combatting.
Simitis, referring to the European defense force, said Greece should have been asked before the U.S. and Britain proceeded with an agreement with Turkey.
The prime minister met later with Senator Ted Kennedy and leaders of Jewish-American organizations in Washington, before departing for Greece.
Source: Athens News Agency