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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-01-12

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] US envoy Ries: 'Greek-US ties won't be affected'

  • [01] US envoy Ries: 'Greek-US ties won't be affected'

    The Greek government and main opposition on Friday strongly condemned an early morning projectile attack against the US embassy in Athens, which caused minor damage but no injuries. Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, in fact, was due to have an unscheduled meeting with Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, hours after her visit to the embassy.

    Bakoyannis rushed to the embassy where she spoke with US ambassador to Greece Charles Ries, while Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras later condemned "this act of violence with a strong sense of abhorrence".

    Ries, meanwhile, stressed that Greek-US relations would not be affected.

    "Counter-terrorism experts are at the scene. Any other statements at this time would be premature," Bakoyannis told reporters with Ries appearing at her side. She also said that she went to the embassy to express the prime minister's and the government's solidarity to Ries.

    "Phenomena such as these have cost so much to our country in the past, socially and economically as well as politically. The Greek government is determined to make every effort so as not to allow such phenomena again," Bakoyannis, whose husband, Pavlos Bakoyannis was gunned down by terrorists in 1989, stated.

    Questioned on the type of attack, the foreign minister said that "I have nothing more to say. The public order ministry is examining every aspect with the cooperation of US intelligence services, and we expect an announcement by them".

    Meanwhile, an announcement by the public order ministry noted that the attack occurred at 5:58 a.m., originating from the embassy and was caused by a "self-propelled explosive projectile".

    The ministry said that the projectile, possible a rocket, caused minor material damage to the building's glass front and roof, adding that no injuries resulted from the attack.

    Any new developments would be released in an announcement, the ministry said.

    "This attack came from the outside. There can be no justification for such a senseless act of violence," US envoy Charles Ries told reporters outside the embassy nearly two hours after the attack (4 a.m. GMT).

    Earlier, the US State Department confirmed that no injuries resulted from the incident.

    What appeared to be a hole was visible very near the embassy's emblem, on the front side of the compound building along Vassilissis Sofias Boulevard.

    Ries added that he has not as yet visited the exact site where the projectile hit, which he called a "crime scene", in answer to a question on what, if any, findings were discovered, i.e. remnants of a rocket or RPG. He also declined to call the episode an "act of terror" for the moment, noting instead that it was a "very serious" incident.

    Greek police cordoned-off the premises around the embassy, which takes up an entire city block, and is one of the most heavily guarded and CCTV-monitored sites in the Greek capital.

    Traffic was interrupted around the embassy, and US officials have promised to open the embassy "as soon as possible", while Ries, in fact, offered an apology to Athens motorists for the surging traffic jam caused by the incident.

    The embassy became a target in February 1996 when an urban terrorist cell launched a 3.5-inch anti-tank rocket that hit the outer wall of a parking lot behind the embassy.

    Public Order minister

    In other statements, Polydoras said the attack was an "act of violence that provokes the Greek public opinion and attempts to disrupt the country's international relations".

    Greek police have undertaken the operational responsibility of the investigation, adding that "we must be sovereign and scrutinizing in the investigation".

    "Operationally, it was an act of symbolism," Polydoras said, adding that the government "condemns it with a strong sense of abhorrence".

    Polydoras further confirmed earlier reports citing two phone calls by unidentified callers, one to a security company whose personnel aid in the embassyās security and another "elsewhere", claiming to assume responsibility of the attack on behalf of the terror group "Revolutionary Struggle?.

    US ambassador

    On his part, Ries told reporters that Greek-US relations would not be affected, and noted the embassy's close cooperation with the Greek authorities in seeking the perpetrators, stressing that the Greek government was handling the investigation, in cooperation with the embassy.

    "Greek-American relations are excellent, and will remain so," the ambassador said.

    Earlier, and while speaking to reporters outside the embassy nearly two hours after the attack, he said he had not yet visited the spot where the projectile hit, which he called a "crime scene", in answer to a question on what, if any, findings were discovered, i.e. remnants of a rocket or RPG. He also declined to call the episode an "act of terror" for the moment, noting instead that it was a "very serious" incident.

    State Department

    "At approximately 11 p.m. EST, 6 a.m. local time there was an explosion at the US embassy in Athens," State Department spokesman Kurtis Cooper said in Washington. "There are no injuries or casualties of any kind. Police have responded. As a result, the embassy will be closed today, Friday the 12th of January."

    PASOK

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou telephoned Amb. Ries, who briefed him over the incident. The former also expressed his condemnation of and abhorrence regarding the action.

    According to a PASOK announcement, the ambassador briefed Papandreou on the incident, and the PASOK leader stressed to Ries that the preceding PASOK governments had worked insistently and methodically, striking a strong blow to terrorism, "and we had the hope that we would not see such phenomena again".

    Papandreou further expressed hope that the incident would not create problems in the good bilateral relations between the two countries.

    Caption: A hole, caused by a projectile, is visible on the third floor of the US embassy in Athens on Friday, Jan. 12, 2007. ANA-MPA photo / P. Saitas.


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