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12 June, 2002
Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis and U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney held talks at the White House on Tuesday on cracking down on international terrorism, the safe holding of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, the issue of the European army and efforts to solve the Cyprus issue.
Karamanlis said the discussion, attended by national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, was ''very useful'' and described the level of bilateral relations as being ''good.'' However, he added that it could become even better.
He said he conveyed to his interlocutors his party's disagreement over the Ankara text on the European army, noting that ND supports cooperation between NATO and the European Union but necessary amendments should be made for it to accept the text in question.
This position did not meet with agreement from the side of the United States. A White House official told the Athens News Agency (ANA) that Cheney reiterated the known American position on the need for the issue to be resolved as soon as possible on the basis of the Ankara text which the American side characterized as being ''very good.''
Cheney and Rice repeated that the issue is of interest to Washington but it should be solved in the ranks of the EU.
On the question of terrorism, Cheney said it is and will continue to be a priority for Washington throughout the entire tenure of the Bush administration.
According to the White House official, Cheney referred to the experience of the U.S. with the winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City and stressed the need for more to be done by Greece for the safe holding of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.
Karamanlis reminded that ND members have been victims of terrorism and committed himself that cracking down on it will be a priority for his government.
The American side appeared to be well informed on ND's position during the process of the anti-terrorism bill's ratification in the Greek Parliament and expressed its satisfaction for it.
The Cyprus issue was also discussed, primarily with Rice, who according to the American official, stressed the need for the sides involved to take advantage of the time remaining until the Copenhagen summit to solve the problem, assuring Karamanlis that the U.S. will make every effort to achieve this target.
Karamanlis reiterated the Greek preference for a solution to the political problem but stressed that if the intransigence of Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash continues, Cyprus will join the EU in the first wave of enlargement even if a solution is not found.
The situation prevailing in the Balkans was also discussed and Karamanlis said human rights and the inviolability of borders should be respected for permanent stability to be achieved and the prospect of all countries in the region joining both the EU and NATO should be strengthened.
Source: Athens News Agency