Last update: 25-Feb-2004 18:28 NATO Update

19 Feb. 2004

NATO ready to assist in Olympics security operation

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The Alliance stands ready to assist in the security operation for the upcoming Athens Olympics said NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer during his visit to Athens, 19 and 20 February.

Mr. de Hoop Scheffer was in Greece for a two-day visit, during which he discussed the main issues on NATO’s agenda and his priorities with the country’s leadership.

"NATO can assist, NATO will assist, NATO is in a position to assist," the Secretary General said following a meeting with Greek Foreign Minister Tassos Yannitsis.

The Alliance’s contribution could include deploying AWACS radar surveillance planes and assisting in developing contingency plans for the consequences of a terrorist attack or natural disaster.

Afghanistan a priority

The Secretary General said he hoped that after the Olympics, Greece would be in a position to contribute to the expansion of NATO’s peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan. This remains NATO’s top priority, he said.

During the visit, Mr. de Hoop Scheffer met with President Constantine Stefanopoulos, Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Foreign Minister Tassos Yannitsis and Defence Minister, Yannos Papantoniou.

He also met with the President of the Greek Association for Atlantic and European Cooperation, Theodosis Georgiou, and participated in a conference on “The Challenges for the Atlantic Alliance”, organized by the Greek Foundation for European and Foreign Policy.