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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-05-28

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From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Karamanlis wraps up tour of Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam

  • [01] Karamanlis wraps up tour of Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis arrived back in Athens late on Sunday night, after completing a 10-day tour that took in New Zealand, Australia and Vietnam. During the trip, the Greek prime minister held numerous meetings with local Greek expatriate organisations, including large rallies in Australia attended by the Greek-Australian community, and held talks with the political leadership of each country.

    Among the most important results of the trip was the signature of a bilateral agreement settling pensions and social insurance problems with Australian Prime Minister John Howard.

    While Hanoi during the last leg of his tour on Sunday, the first-ever state visit by a Greek premier to Vietnam, Karamanlis invited his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Tan Dung to pay an official visit to Greece.

    The Greek prime minister, accompanied by foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis and deputy foreign minister Theodoros Kassimis, arrived in Hanoi on Saturday evening.

    Karamanlis, speaking to reporters after a meeting with Dung in Hanoi, stressed that Vietnam, with its rapidly developing economy and active participation in international organisations, has become a new addition as a financial partner of Greece.

    During the meeting, a tourism cooperation agreement between the two countries was signed, with deputy foreign minister Theodoros Kassimis signing on behalf of Greece.

    Karamanlis said the talks covered a broad range of bilateral relations, noting that cooperation between the two countries was good and that they aspired to strengthen their cooperation in the economic and commercial sectors, while agreeing to give mutual support and cooperation in international organisations.

    Greece has agreed to back Vietnam's candidacy for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council in the period 2008-2009. Vietnam had backed Greece's successful candidacy for a non-permanent seat on the Security Council, on which it served in the period 2005-2006.

    Dung, in turn, accepted Karamanlis' invitation, adding that he aspired to further reinforce the relations of friendship and cooperation between the two countries on a permanent basis, stressing that the Greek prime minister's visit "will bring a new era in our bilateral relations".

    The Vietnamese prime minister further noted that Karamanlis backed the economic reforms being advanced in Vietnam, adding that negotiations were currently underway for two more cooperation accords between the two countries in the sectors of the economy and avoidance of double taxation.

    Both prime ministers noted that bilateral cooperation could be further expanded to the sectors of shipping and technology, in addition to the sectors of tourism and commerce.

    In 2006, the trade balance between Greece and Vietnam was 84 million dollars, and the target was to reach 100 million dollars, with continuous improvement, Dung said, adding that Vietnam was acknowledged by many countries as a market economy, and stressing that, as a new member of the World Health Organisation (WHO), it would live up to its obligations.

    Karamanlis said that relations at political level were very good, adding that these relations should also be reflected in the sector of economic cooperation.

    Earlier, Karamanlis laid a wreath at the Monument to Heroes and Martyrs, and another wreath at the Ho Chi Ming Mausoleum.

    After their talks and joint press conference, Dung hosted an official luncheon for Karamanlis, who later also met with Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet.

    The Greek prime minister will depart Vietnam on Sunday afternoon (local time), and is expected to arrive back in Athens shortly before midnight Sunday (Greek time).

    Caption: Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis (C) at a church service at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation of Our Lady in Sydney, Australia on 22 May 2007. ANA-MPA/ EPA/MICK TSIKAS AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT

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