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11 January, 2002
Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Thursday had a 15-minute teleconference with U.S. Vice-president Dick Cheney, during which the two men discussed the Cyprus issue and the course of the new round of negotiations between Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot community leader Rauf Denktash.
Simitis and Cheney also discussed developments in the Balkans and the U.S. Vice-president thanked the Greek premier for Greece's role in bringing stability in the region.
Terrorism and Greece's participation in the worldwide confrontation of this phenomenon was also on the agenda of the teleconference, while Cheney spoke of the security measures taken for the Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games, when the two men discussed the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
In regards to Greece's homegrown terrorism and the issue of the shadowy terrorist group "17 November" Cheney expressed the hope that the cooperation between the two countries on the issue will yield results, while he also expressed the hope for a solution to the European security and defense issue.
Cheney and Simitis did not meet face-to-face as the U.S. vice-president was not in Washington for security reasons, thus his meetings with Simitis, the prime ministers of Sweden and the Czech Republic as well as that with NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson had to be postponed.
In fact, Cheney apologized to Simitis for his inability to meet him in the American capital.
U.S. ambassador to Athens explains Simitis-Cheney meeting face-to-face cancellation:
U.S. Ambassador to Athens Thomas Miller on Thursday briefed Greek journalists on the reasons for the cancellation of the meeting between Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis and U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney.
During a teleconference, Miller said that "the vice-president is out of town (Washington). Since Sept. 11, and for most of the time, he has been at a secure location. Even I can not tell you where exactly he is," Miller said, adding that throughout the preparations for the Simitis-Cheney meeting "we knew that there was a big chance that he will be outside Washington. When he is outside Washington, while a foreign leader is in the city and a meeting has been arranged with him, then they speak over the phone or they hold a teleconference. It is clearly a technical issue, there is no political expediency. It has nothing to do with the Greek government, its prime minister, his visit or anything else."
Miller stressed that in his discussions with U.S. President George Bush, Secretary of State Colin Powell and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld it was made clear that they were looking forward to Simitis' visit.
"He is not just a Greek leader (Simitis), he is a European leader," Miller said noting that Simitis will be the first European leader to meet Bush following the introduction of the euro, and added that the two men will discuss bilateral issues and international affairs.
Source: Athens News Agency