24 March, 2006
Greece is a strategic partner for the United States, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told reporters after a half-hour meeting with Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis here on Thursday, the first meeting between the two since
Bakoyannis assumed her current post.
Rice noted that both countries wish to solve many international problems, without this necessarily meaning that they agree on all issues, and referred to Greece's good relations with the Muslim world, noting that they could be useful in promoting peace.
On her part, Bakoyannis referred to the need to solve problems in various parts of the world, referring in particular to the West Balkans, whose future - according to the Greek minister - is in Europe.
As for Kosovo and defining its status, Bakoyannis said that the positions and views of all involved parties should be taken into consideration.
Bakoyannis also underscored the need to resolve the Cyprus issue by finding a solution based on the UN Security Council's relevant decisions that will lead to a united, bi-communal Cyprus.
Also referring to Cyprus, Rice said that the island's reunification must be achieved based on democratic values. She did not refer to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's plan.
On the issue of Greek-Turkish relations, Rice stressed that the US supports the steady improvement in relations which began after the two countries came to each others' aid following the 1999 earthquakes.
Bakoyannis, on her part, raised the issue of the re-opening of the Halki Greek Orthodox Seminary in Turkey, while Rice responded that this is an issue the US repeatedly raises with the Turkish government.
Furthermore, Rice congratulated Bakoyannis on her work as Athens Mayor and accepted the Greek minister's invitation to visit Greece.
Source: Athens News Agency