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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 02-07-16

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

July 16, 2002


  • [01] Police announce search for Koufodinas, N17's suspected 2nd-in-command
  • [02] Greece closely monitoring developments in Turkey, gov't says
  • [03] New measures for reduction of atmospheric pollution in Athens
  • [04] ND leader to visit Belgrade and Tirana
  • [05] ND deputy says education in Greece is of low quality
  • [06] ND MEP Hatzidakis: IGC should target safeguarding diversity, participation
  • [07] Minister expresses Greece's opposition to revised
  • [08] Consumer credit slows in April
  • [09] Commercial Bank of Greece to buy Yugoslav bank
  • [10] OPAP's international IPO 5.5 times oversubscribed
  • [11] Greek travel and tourism agencies join forces
  • [12] Greek stocks end moderately up on Monday
  • [13] PM to chair meeting on Olympics security on Tuesday
  • [14] Deputy DM on ministry participation in Olympic volunteerism
  • [15] Venizelos reveals course of Cultural Olympiad events
  • [16] Minister to give press conference on Parthenon Marbles
  • [17] 'Theban Cycle' plays to be staged at Epidauros within Cultural Olympiad
  • [18] Cyprus honors those killed in 1974 to defend the Republic
  • [19] Government not negative towards UN proposals
  • [20] Alvaro de Soto hopes for progress in Cyprus talks
  • [21] Kasoulides and Peres discuss Middle East problem

  • [01] Police announce search for Koufodinas, N17's suspected 2nd-in-command

    Athens, 16/07/2002 (ANA)

    Greek police on Monday officially announced that they were looking for 44-year-old Dimitris Koufodinas, the man who rented the Damareos 73 apartment in Pangrati where police discovered one of the two known arms caches belonging to the terrorist group ''November 17''.

    Koufodinas is believed to be the second-in-command of the terrorist group and a liaison between its operatives and the leader.

    Police spokesman Lefteris Economou said that Koufodinas' involvement in N17 was indicated both by him leasing the Pangrati hideout and by witnesses questioned during the course of the investigation.

    The spokesman said that the 44-year-old man had in recent years been living in Varnava, Attica with Angeliki Sotiropoulou, the former wife of suspected terrorist Savvas Xiros. He is also known to have used the false names Dimitris Lambropoulos, Dimitris Sotiropoulos and a number of others.

    Police have released three photographs of Koufodinas, one taken from his identity card issued in 1975 and two that were more recent. In the last photographs he is shown to have a beard and thinning hair.

    The older photograph has a fairly close resemblance with police sketches of 'November 17' members in the 1980s, drawn from witness accounts.

    Economou appealed to members of the public who recognized the man in the photographs to contact the anti-terrorist squad's 170 and 1964 hotlines or any other police station to give any information they had.

    According to the police, Koufodinas has been living as an outlaw since 1985, always going under a false name and had not been in touch with his home and his family since that time.

    One relative reported a chance encounter between Koufodinas and his father on an Athens street in 1990, during which Koufodinas said that he was married and had one child before he disappeared again.

    Gov't dismisses allegations of PAK link to N17 as 'ridiculous': Allegations that the terrorist group ''November 17'' may have been linked with the Panhellenic Liberation Movement (PAK), the forerunner of the present ruling PASOK party, were dismissed as ''ridiculous nonsense'' by government spokesman Christos Protopapas on Monday.

    The spokesman was responding to questions regarding statements by former US ambassador to Greece Thomas Niles to a foreign news channel, in which he reiterated earlier claims that members of PAK may have known members of the terrorist group.

    Mr. Niles was a retired diplomat and the official stance of the United States was expressed by current US ambassador Thomas J. Miller, he said.

    Speaking on the same issue after a meeting with PASOK's candidate for Athens mayor Christos Papoutsis, Environment Minister Vasso Papandreou stressed that that dealing with terrorism was a national issue that did not lend itself to scenarios serving petty party-political ends, while Papoutsis accused those who linked N17 with PAK of being irresponsible.

    Coalition of the Left and Progress leader Nikos Constantopoulos, meanwhile accused Niles of being part of a disinformation campaign that was seeking to create a political crisis in Greece.

    Coalition leader: democracy at risk from 'misinformation' surrounding N17 story: The sensationalist coverage of a recent breakthrough in the investigation into the terrorist group November 17 by the Greek media and the seeming inability of the authorities to prevent this, was criticized at an event in Athens on Monday attended by politicians, public officials and representatives of journalists' unions.

    Among those speaking at the event ''to deal with the phenomenon of misinformation and to promote the fundamental principles and rights of citizens'' was Coalition of the Left and Progress leader Nikos Constantopoulos, who stressed that November 17 would have achieved its goals if the attempt to break it up was used as a vehicle by conservative and reactionary elements in Greek society.

    He particularly criticized what he called ''an orgy of misinformation'' involving people who had no official capacity and who linked terrorism with the resistance movement under the military junta that ruled Greece in 1967-1974.

    [02] Greece closely monitoring developments in Turkey, gov't says

    Athens, 16/07/2002 (ANA)

    The Greek government was closely monitoring developments in neighboring Turkey but neither could nor wanted to interfere in the domestic affairs of other countries, government spokesman Christos Protopapas announced on Monday.

    He was responding to questions regarding the political upheaval within Turkey had how this might affect its relations with Greece.

    According to the ANA correspondent from Ankara, meanwhile, Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit has for the first time openly admitted that he may be forced to resign in an interview with the Turkish daily ''Milliyet''.

    Ecevit, whose visibly ailing health has prompted seven cabinet minister to leave his government, said that he might have to resign if he could not persuade far-right Nationalist Action Party partners that finance minister Kemal Dervis should remain in the government.

    There are also strong signs that Ecevit may have lost his majority in Parliament before the week is out, again forcing his resignation. Some 48 MPs have quit his party at the latest count, with just 11 to go before reaching the cut-off point of 276 seats that will spell the end of his government.

    [03] New measures for reduction of atmospheric pollution in Athens

    Athens, 16/07/2002 (ANA)

    Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Vasso Papandreou on Monday announced new plans for the reduction of atmospheric pollution in Athens.

    It is assessed that the measures, taken by the environment ministry and the transport and communications ministry, will bring about a 12.5 per cent reduction in atmospheric pollution.

    Among other things, Papandreou announced incentives (subsidies reaching up to 50 per cent) for the replacement of old burners with new technology burners as well as the replacement of taxis' engines with natural gas engines.

    Furthermore, there are plans for the replacement of engines of 20 per cent of municipal vehicles with natural gas engines.

    The minister also announced that efforts will be made for these measures to be adopted by major enterprises in the private sector.

    [04] ND leader to visit Belgrade and Tirana

    Athens, 16/07/2002 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis will visit Belgrade and Tirana on Tuesday and Wednesday as part of the European Peoples' Party's Initiative for Democracy in the Western Balkans, which he is heading.

    During his visits, Karamanlis will be meeting Yugoslav Federal President Vojislav Kostunica, Archbishop of Albania Anastasios and former Albanian Prime Minister Ilir Meta.

    [05] ND deputy says education in Greece is of low quality

    Athens, 16/07/2002 (ANA)

    A main opposition New Democracy (ND) deputy on Monday said that ''today, after 18 years of reforms and contra-reforms, for which the ruling party is greatly responsible, the element that characterizes the tragic status of the education sector in our country is low quality''.

    George Kalos, who is head of Education for the New Democracy party, said that ''our country is at a difficult junction in connection to education sector affairs; many say that the country is at a risk to permanently lose the bet with Education as it emerges from the requirements set by the European educational horizon''.

    ''We are lagging behind the other EU countries in crucial educational areas such as new technologies, teacher training, the universities entrance exams system, to mention a few'', he said.

    Kalos was speaking after the conclusion of a ND headquarter meeting chaired by the party's president Costas Karamanlis, which focused on education matters.

    [06] ND MEP Hatzidakis: IGC should target safeguarding diversity, participation

    Athens, 16/07/2002 (ANA)

    The goal of the European Union's new Inter-Governmental Conference (IGC) should be to substantially tackle the 15-nation bloc's democratic deficit, ensure citizens' participation in the decision-making process through strengthening of the national parliaments, and safeguard the EU's diversity, main opposition New Democracy party (ND) Eurodeputy Costas Hatzidakis said Monday.

    Speaking to the Athens News Agency (ANA) as part of a series of interviews on the new IGC decided by the EU for revision of the Community treaties, Hatzidakis also opined that no EU-member state could, during the short term of its EU presidency, bring about dramatic changes to the Union's manner of action and operation.

    Hatzidakis said that the discussions on Europe's future aim at making the EU more democratic, transparent and efficient, with the targets of the IGC being rapprochement among the citizens and with the institutional bodies, their participation in the decision-taking process through reinforcing the role of the national parliaments, and combatting the democratic deficit in the EU's manner of operation.

    If the EU evolved fully into a system that operated to the benefit of its peoples, it could serve as a model on a global scale with respect to the values it championed, its free and democratic governance, but also preservation of its diversity, he said.

    To a question on the new conditions arising after the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US, Hatzidakis said that the issue of security and protection of the citizens' lives had been restored to the forefront as a fundamental priority on a world scale. And while it was possible that certain restrictions could be imposed on the development of other freedoms and rights of the citizens of Europe, he said, the democratic tradition in Europe was so strong that it would be very difficult to alter it.

    On the initiatives that the Greek EU presidency in the first half of 2003 should advance, Hatzidakis said that no member state could, un the short term of its presidency, bring about dramatic changes to the EU's mode of action and operation. It was consequently important that the Greek EU presidency set realistic and feasible targets.

    To another question, he said that the political union of the EU had become an imperative need, given the imminent enlargement, but added that political unification should not affect the nucleus of sovereign rights of the member states.

    Asked how functional a 25-member EU would be after enlargement, Hatzidakis said that the enlarged EU could be functional provided that the problems expected to arise were tackled in advance, preventively, in an efficient manner. Besides, he added, he was certain that the EU had acquired substantial experience so as to be able to ensure the national particularities of its member-states.

    Questioned on the role Greece could play in reinforcing the Balkan countries preparing for EU membership, Hatzidakis said that Greece could play a substantial role in strengthening the Balkan nations' European prospect and altering the scene of what was up to recently the 'powder keg of Europe'. He said Greece's geographical proximity to and traditionally good relations with those countries gave it a stabilizing role in the region and the responsibility of cultivating a positive climate of cooperation with the EU. The accession of those countries into the EU would lead to a new period of stability and cooperation, at the same time decisively putting the formal or informal border differences and minority problems definitively into the past, he added.

    Asked how Greece could contribute to the EU acquiring a genuinely uniform foreign policy, Hatzidakis noted first of all that if the EU wanted to play an important role on the international political scene, it needed to have one voice. Greece could work in that direction, but there would be huge obstacles since such a development would not be in the interests of many of the member-states. France and Britain, for example, as members of the UN Security Council, would not want to give up their privileges while other countries, such as the Netherlands, had traditional ties with the US, he said.

    At the same time, he added, no European country wanted to pay for defense but, if the EU could not be powerful in the defense sector, it could not be powerful in the foreign policy sector.

    Greece, he continued, could reinforce the perception that a strong Union, at international level, was to the benefit of all, so that in the long-term the pressure of a single foreign policy would come from the EU citizens themselves and from the media.

    [07] Minister expresses Greece's opposition to revised

    CAP BRUSSELS, 16/07/2002 (ANA - Y. Zitouniati)

    Agriculture Minister George Drys expressed Greece's opposition to the Common Agricultural Policy's (CAP) interim revision, which ''separates'' subsidies from production, during negotiations which began at the Council of Agriculture Ministers here on Monday and will be completed during Greece's European Union presidency in the first half of 2003.

    Speaking to reporters after the prolonged Council meeting, Drys said the separation of subsidies from production is a new element in the EU's agricultural policy, which should not lead to the European model's destruction.

    He said it could lead farmers to abandoning the sector or making a lesser effort, adding that ''we should not reach social bonuses for all farmers.''

    Drys further stressed the need for the European farmers trade union organizations to participate in the relevant dialogue since they will be called on to implement the new policy and announced that he will be requesting the views of Greek trade union organizations for the formulation of Greek positions.

    Addressing the Council, where the first discussion was held on the European Commission's recent proposals on the CAP's interim revision, Drys termed them ''unsatisfactory'', adding that in negotiations to follow Greece will contribute constructively to facilitate those changes which shall lift whichever of the CAP's malfunctions and, at the same time, will safeguard the social and environmental content of European agriculture.

    Drys said Greece will not accept any plan aimed at the CAP's shrinking or gradual abolition, nor will it accept ideas aimed at its partial or total renationalization.

    He said that, of course, the CAP should be adjusted to the requirements of the times, but the European farmer cannot shoulder alone the cost of European agriculture respecting quality and the environment and providing consumers with food safety and, indeed, under conditions of relentless competition.

    Referring to the agricultural aspect of EU enlargement, Drys said it should be funded by additional resources and not with expenditure cutbacks from the existing EU budget.

    ''If we want a greater Europe and a viable agriculture we should all assume our responsibilities since the CAP should not become the prisoner of enlargement, nor enlargement that of the CAP,'' he said.

    On the question of the repercussions of the European Commission's proposals for Greek agricultural products, Drys said the Commission is harshly and selectively punishing, without convincing reasons, hard grain and is providing unfavorable treatment for rice as well.

    Drys underlined that Greece desires a guaranteed income for Greek farmers and stockbreeders, linked to their productive activities and, in addition, incentives for qualitative and ecological agriculture and new farmers.

    [08] Consumer credit slows in April

    Athens, 16/07/2002 (ANA)

    Growth in consumer credit slowed slightly to 35.9 percent year on year in April against a 36.1 percent rate of increase a month earlier to total 8.3 billion euros, the Bank of Greece said on Monday.

    Mortgage credit in April accelerated slightly to total 25.6 billion euros, representing 18.1 percent of gross domestic product, the central bank said in a statement.

    [09] Commercial Bank of Greece to buy Yugoslav bank

    Athens, 16/07/2002 (ANA)

    Commercial Bank of Greece, which is quoted on the Athens bourse, said on Monday that it had signed an agreement to acquire Kapital Banka AD/Beograd of Yugoslavia.

    The pact allows for the purchase of 80 percent of stock in the Belgrade-based bank, which has assets of 71 million euros and shareholders' equity of about 17 million euros.

    Commercial Bank will add its expertise to Kapital's knowledge of the local market in order to offer customers a wide range of banking services, including retail banking, the statement said.

    [10] OPAP's international IPO 5.5 times oversubscribed

    Athens, 16/07/2002 (ANA)

    The Greek Football Pools Organization (OPAP) on Monday announced that its initial share offering to international investors was 5.5 times oversubscribed, while its domestic offering 1.7 times oversubscribed.

    OPAP said its final offer price was set at 8.44 euros per share and that its combined offer (except from a private placement of its shares to its staff) was 3.8 times oversubscribed at the same price.

    OPAP said a total of around 9,500 investors participated in its initial public offering and the value of stocks offered by the Greek state and the Public Securities Enterprise (DEKA) would total 508.7 million euros.

    The organization said that small investors that participated in OPAP's IPO were entitled to a free share (with a limit of 200 shares per investor) for every 10 shares they acquired during the public offering and they would hold for a period of six months.

    OPAP said share trading in the Athens Stock Exchange was expected to begin Thursday, 18 July.

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias, Alpha Finance and Schroder Salomon Smith Barney were coordinators of OPAP's combined share offer.

    [11] Greek travel and tourism agencies join forces

    Athens, 16/07/2002 (ANA)

    More than 100 Greek travel and tourism agencies joined forces to create a multi-shareholding company Hellenic Travel Force SA, with the support of the Association of Hellenic Tourist and Travel Agencies (HATTA).

    The new company's task will be to support additional tourist services, organizing large-scale tourist events and managing vertical products, such as hotels, tourist boats, aircraft leasing, etc.

    It is the first time that such a large number of Greek travel and tourism agencies joined together, with the organizers of the initiative hoping that the number of its shareholders would increase after a share capital increase plan.

    Hellenic Travel Force already agreed with Eurobank Properties to jointly participate in a tender to offer private housing to visitors of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.

    [12] Greek stocks end moderately up on Monday

    Athens, 16/07/2002 (ANA)

    Greek stocks ended Monday's session moderately higher in the Athens Stock Exchange, following a pattern in other European bourses.

    The general index rose 0.44 percent to end at 2,146.71 points, with turnover a low 67.8 million euros.

    The Retail, Construction and Textile sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day (2.85 percent, 1.17 percent and 0.90 percent, respectively), while the Metal, Holding and Insurance sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses (1.02 percent, 1.01 percent and 0.83 percent).

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks eased 0.31 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index ended 0.35 percent higher and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index ended 0.01 percent up.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 177 to 117 with another 56 issues unchanged.

    The most heavily traded stocks in value were Hellenic Telecoms, Football Pools Organization, Commercial Bank of Greece and Alpha Bank.

    Bond Market Close: Prices nose up in light trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Monday finished higher in light trade focusing on ten-year paper.

    The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5.17 percent, and the spread over the corresponding German bund was 32 basis points.

    Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 1.0 billion euros.

    Buy orders accounted for just over half of trade.

    Derivatives Market Close: Equity index futures mixed: Equity index futures on the Athens Derivatives Exchange finished mixed on Monday, with contracts on the high capitalization index showing a slight premium and on the medium cap index a discount of more than 1.0 percent, despite a rise.

    Turnover was 67.2 million euros.

    The underlying FTSE/ASE-20 index for heavily traded stocks and blue chips lost 0.31 percent; and the underlying FTSE/ASE-40 for medium capitalization stocks rose 0.35 percent.

    Trade in stock futures was scant.

    [13] PM to chair meeting on Olympics security on Tuesday

    Athens, 16/07/2002 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis is to chair a government meeting at 11:00 on Tuesday to discuss security at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, government spokesman Christos Protopapas announced.

    Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysohoidis, Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos and Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Giannitsis will attend the meeting.

    At noon on Tuesday, the premier will chair a cabinet meeting on the Olympic Games, while at 19:00 he will meet with the government's communication team.

    [14] Deputy DM on ministry participation in Olympic volunteerism

    Athens, 16/07/2002 (ANA)

    Deputy Defense Minister Lazaros Lotidis, speaking at a press conference on Monday, announced the general framework of the defense ministry's participation in Olympic volunteerism regarding preparation for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. Athens 2004 Organizing Committee President Gianna Angelopoulos Daskalaki also attended the event.

    Lotidis said the armed forces, apart from their social contribution to the citizen, are now also opening up in the volunteerism sector as well.

    He further said permanent members of the armed forces, as well as recruits doing their military service at the time the Olympic Games will be taking place, will not be participating in Olympic volunteerism.

    Recruits doing their military service now, or who will be doing it during the next few months, can participate as volunteers in the preparation of the Olympic Games on condition their main mission will not be harmed.

    Lotidis said the government’s cooperation with Athens 2004 is harmonious, while Daskalaki said a difficult stage was passed but it appears now that appropriate and speedy steps are being taken.

    [15] Venizelos reveals course of Cultural Olympiad events

    Athens, 16/07/2002 (ANA)

    Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Monday revealed in Thessaloniki the course of this year's Cultural Olympiad and ''New Balkans'' events unfolding in Northern Greece and the southeastern European region.

    Venizelos said that the detailed program of ''Cultural Olympiad 2003'' would be revealed in September and he made special mention of the ''Prespes Festival'', a series of events taking place in the prefecture of Florina from 22 to 31 August, as part of the ''New Balkans'' events.

    The culture minister said that his Albanian and Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) counterparts had already accepted his invitation to attend the events accompanied by a delegation representing the literature and the arts at their respective countries and made special mention of the presence of President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos at the events.

    The Cultural Olympiad is a variety of diverse cultural events taking place around the country, mainly during the summer months, while the ''New Balkans'' is a regional program unfolding in both Greece and its neighboring Balkan countries.

    [16] Minister to give press conference on Parthenon Marbles

    Athens, 16/07/2002 (ANA)

    Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos and the President of the Organization for the Building of the New Acropolis Museum Dimitris Pantermalis will be giving a press conference on Tuesday together with a group of members of the British Committee for the Return of the Parthenon Marbles.

    [17] 'Theban Cycle' plays to be staged at Epidauros within Cultural Olympiad

    Athens, 16/07/2002 (ANA)

    Four noted directors will join forces to stage a series of ancient Greek tragedies entitled the 'Theban Cycle' at the renowned ancient theatre of Epidauros on July 19-20, using sets created by top sculptor Yiannis Kounellis.

    The four directors will present the plays ''Bacches'', ''Oedipus Rex,'' ''Seven in Thebes,'' and ''Antigone'' under the auspices of the Cultural Olympiad. They include Tadashi Suzuki, director of the Shizuoka Performing Arts Center (SPAC), Valery Fokin of Moscow's Meyerhold Center, Anna Badora of the National Theatre in Dusseldorf and Theodoros Terzopoulos, president of the International Committee of the Theatrical Olympiad.

    [18] Cyprus honors those killed in 1974 to defend the Republic

    NICOSIA, 16/07/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    Cyprus remembered and paid tribute on Monday to all those who lost their life in defense of the Republic during the 1974 military coup against the democratically elected President of Cyprus.

    The military coup against President Archbishop Makarios, engineered by the military junta then ruling Greece, was followed five days later by the Turkish invasion, which resulted in the illegal occupation of 37 percent of the Republic's territory and its de facto division.

    The wailing of sirens was heard at 8.20 local time, the very time when the coup occurred.

    A church service for those killed during the coup was held on Monday morning at Saints Constantinos and Elenis Church in Nicosia, in the presence of Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides. House President Demetris Christofias addressed the ceremony.

    Wreaths were laid at the tombs of those killed defending the Republic.

    The 56-seat House of Representatives had a special session on Monday morning to denounce the coup and the Turkish invasion and honor those who sacrificed their life for democracy and for defending their country.

    Political parties and other groups organized rallies and gatherings to denounce the coup against Makarios.

    [19] Government not negative towards UN proposals

    NICOSIA, 16/07/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    Government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said on Monday that the government is not negative towards any proposals on the Cyprus problem being submitted by the United Nations, but instead favors the greatest possible engagement of the UN in the process of direct talks to reach a settlement.

    Papapetrou said ''it is licit for the Greek Cypriot side to pursue and struggle and demand and request that these proposals to be submitted will be within the framework of UN decisions''.

    He added that this would also be in line with the recent statement issued by the UN Security Council, after being briefed by the UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto, about the course of the UN-led talks between Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.

    Asked if the government had any information about plans or proposals to be submitted by the UN, Papapetrou said ''we have no information'' and that ''no one knows beforehand''.

    UN-led direct talks between President Clerides and Denktash began in January this year, with a view to negotiate until a settlement is reached. The fifth round of the talks begins on Tuesday.

    [20] Alvaro de Soto hopes for progress in Cyprus talks

    NICOSIA, 16/07/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    The UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto, has expressed hope that the leaders of the two communities on the island will make progress in their talks to solve the Cyprus problem.

    The UN diplomat, who arrived in Cyprus on Sunday night in view of the fifth round of direct talks between President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, to commence on Tuesday, said ''there is a lot of work to be done'' and that ''we will be working during the Summer''.

    Asked if there will be any progress in the summer, de Soto, who attends the UN-led talks, said ''you won't be hearing it from me now, if there is any''.

    The Peruvian diplomat was speaking after a meeting with President Clerides.

    [21] Kasoulides and Peres discuss Middle East problem

    JERUSALEM, 16/07/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    The foreign ministers of Cyprus and Israel, Ioannis Kasoulides and Shimon Peres, had a working lunch at Inbal Hotel in Jerusalem on Monday, during which they talked about the recent developments in the region and the Middle East problem.

    Speaking to the media after the lunch, the two ministers said they are optimistic about the future and expressed their willingness to work towards a peaceful settlement in the area.

    ''And I would say'', the foreign minister of Israel said, ''that Cyprus, on many occasions, offered its services successfully''. He added that was not only a success for Israel and the Jews, but for the Mediterranean and the relations between Israel and Cyprus. Peres thanked Kasoulides for his interest.

    Explaining his interest regarding the Middle East problem, Kasoulides said ''Cyprus is part of the geography of this region but perhaps not part of its problem''.

    ''Cyprus'', he added, ''has close ties with Israel and shares common values with the Israeli people and has close ties also with the other neighboring countries''.

    He said this is why he believed that the Cyprus government ''can contribute to efforts to bring peace and stability to our region''.

    Kasoulides said he was visiting Israel to exchange thoughts and views with Israeli officials and noted that ''we are ready to help, if our help is needed''.

    Referring to the enlargement of the European Union and the accession of Cyprus to the EU, Kasoulides expressed hope that Europe will become closer to Israel and that the whole region will benefit from that development.

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