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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-10-14

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

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

NEWS IN ENGLISH

Athens, Greece, 14/10/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greece sends team to Georgia for hostage talks
  • Athens, Tel Aviv agree to expand defence cooperation
  • Pilgrims end odyssey, allege mistreatment in Israel
  • Greece has no comment on Commission report
  • Clinton to focus on bilateral relations in visit
  • Role play scenario brings peace on Cyprus
  • Equity prices come under pressure
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greece sends team to Georgia for hostage talks

Greece said on Thursday that it was sending a joint diplomatic and military team to Georgia to assist in negotiations for the release of six UN observers, including a Greek officer, abducted by gunmen in the breakaway region of Abkhazia. Deputy Defence Minister Dimitris Apostolakis said the team would be leaving today. The aim of the Greek government, he added, is to try and ensure that no harm comes to the UN observers. He said Greece had asked the Georgian government to be informed in advance about any plans it may have to try and release the observers by force. Government spokesman Nikos Athanasakis said later that the Athens' view on the abduction was that force should not be used to try and release the observers.

Athens, Tel Aviv agree to expand defence cooperation

Greece and Israel today agreed to revision and expansion of a 1994 defence cooperation agreement, during talks in Tel Aviv between Greece's visiting national defence minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and Israeli premier and defence minister Ehud Barak, an ANA dispatch from Tel Aviv said. During the three-hour meeting, Tsohatzopoulos and Barak exchanged views on the prospects for expanding bilateral relations between Greece and Israel on matters of security and stability in the wider region, and reviewed proposals for cooperation in the armaments sector.

Pilgrims end odyssey, allege mistreatment in Israel

A cruiseship carrying 25 Christian pilgrims denied entry in Israel and Cyprus docked in Piraeus port this morning, ending a week-long odyssey. The group, who started out aboard the Cypriot-flag "Nissos Kipros" from Piraeus on October 7, were refused permission to disembark in Haifa this week when Israeli authorities said they were members of a cult who planned to commit suicide to mark the new millennium and hasten the coming of Christ. The group was also barred from entering Cyprus, which allowed the vessel to refuel for the return to Piraeus, via Rhodes. A spokesman for the group -- 18 irish nationals, six adopted children with special needs from Romania and their Colombian teacher -- yesterday denied that they were members of any cult.

Greece has no comment on Commission report

Greece on Thursday could not be drawn on the conclusions of a Commission report on relations between the European Union and Turkey, saying only that it would be discussed on Friday. Government spokesman Nikos Athanassakis said that there was no reason to make any comment until then and that Greece's position on Greek-Turkish relations and Turkey's course towards Europe were well-known and had not changed. TheEuropean Commission, in a report released on Wednesday suggested Turkey become a candidate without starting formal negotiations.

Clinton to focus on bilateral relations in visit

U.S. President Bill Clinton believes his forthcoming visit to Greece can boost Greek-American relations in all sectors, U.S. Ambassador to Greece Nicholas Burns told reporters in Athens on Thursday. "We believe that the leaderships of our countries... will discuss how to better cooperate on major political probelsm of our time, we will discuss the leading role of Greece in the Balkans," Burns said. Burns said he believed that the focus would be on issues of bilateral interest, such as economic and military cooperation. Burns was speaking a news conference to announce details of an international conference on tourism.

Role play scenario brings peace on Cyprus

In theory, it can happen: A UN peace conference on Cyprus ended on Thursday with the opposing sides recognising that each had legitimate interests and concerns and declaring to be bound to a peaceful resolution on the basis of the UN Charter. The Greek and Turkish Cypriots agreed on a series of confidence-building measures and Greece and Turkey signed a non-aggression pact on the sidelines of the conference. But the results of this conference were simulated - by 25 young academics taking part in an inter-communal role play on the Cyprus issue and focusing on where the obstacles to a just, lasting and viable settlement are.

Equity prices come under pressure

Equity prices came under strong pressure on Thursday dramatically reversing a previous three-day rally and pushing the market below the 6,000 level. The general index ended 3.88 percent lower at 5,916.68 points from 6,155.21 the previous close, slightly off the day's lows of 5,842 points. Turnover was 412.7 billion drachmas. The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks ended 6.46 percent lower while the FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks dropped 2.94 percent to 2,976.24 points.

WEATHER

Fair weather will prevail in most parts of the country today. Cloudy in northern Greece with the possibility of local rain mainly in Madedonia and Thrace. Winds variable, light to moderate. Sunshine in Athens with temperatures between 15-28C. Possibility of showers in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 13-25C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Thursday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          303.215
Pound sterling       501.258
Japanese yen (100)   281.351
French franc          49.724
German mark          166.768
Italian lira (100)    16.845
Irish Punt           414.150
Belgian franc          8.085
Finnish mark          54.858
Dutch guilder        148.009
Danish kr.            43.892
Austrian sch.         23.704
Spanish peseta         1.960
Swedish kr.           37.408
Norwegian kr.         39.261
Swiss franc          204.947
Port. Escudo           1.627
Can. dollar          205.106
Aus. dollar          198.792
Cyprus pound         564.369
Euro                 326.170
(M.P.)
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