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17 September, 1998
US ambassador to Athens Nicholas Burns announced the imminent abolition of visas for Greeks intending to visit the US during an interview on Lesvos yesterday.
"It is a measure which has been abolished 10 years ago for the citizens of all European Union countries, with the exception of those of Portugal and Greece. I believe that the abolition of the visa is a matter of a few months and this is so because processes must be completed inside the government for such a thing to be achieved," he said.
Mr. Burns hailed views recently stated by the US ambassador to Nicosia Kenneth Brill, according to which "the government of the US is examining what is included in the proposal on a confederation by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash."
He added, however, that "the policy of the US on the Cyprus problem on a unified and federal Cyprus has not changed."
On the question of Turkish claims in the Aegean, Mr. Burns said that the US "is a good ally and friend with Greece and Turkey. An intervention on our part to overturn the negative climate can take place at any time, provided that it is requested."
"However, Greece and Turkey must find a way to promote the peace process in the region. This way could be the international court at The Hague or whatever else is chosen. However, the Aegean must and can be a region without problems," he added.
During his contacts yesterday with the Secretary General of the Northern Aegean Region, the prefect of Lesvos and the mayor of Mytilene, Mr. Burns stressed the need for the "development of economic relations between agencies in the region and corresponding agencies in the US."
He said that despite what is being guessed in the region, there is security, therefore there is the possibility "and the need to develop economic and cultural relations."
Mr. Burns and his entourage left for Athens yesterday afternoon.
Source: Athens News Agency