ATHENS ø The United States wants Greece to increase security
measures at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens in the wake of intelligence evidence that western teams are targets of terror plots.
The Bush administration has urged Athens to
accelerate security preparations for the Olympics during the national election
campaign in Greece.
On Wednesday, Greek Public Order Minister George Floridis began three
days of meetings on security
cooperation with CIA director George Tenet,
National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice and Deputy Secretary of State
The officials said the administration has expressed
concern that the campaign will distract from the effort to improve security around
Greek officials said that Al Qaida and related groups might be targeting Western teams, according to intelligence reports.
Floridis has stressed that the Olympic Games will be completely secure
and will not be affected by the Greek elections. Parliamentary elections
have been scheduled for March 7.
During the campaign, Greece plans to hold a full-scale Olympic security
exercise. The exercise, entitled Blue Odyssey 2004, has been scheduled for
Feb. 6-8 and will include Greek police, army, navy, air force and coast
guard. This is the sixth such exercise to prepare for the Olympics.
Officials said the exercise, planned by the Olympic Games' security
directorate, will include such scenarios as an insurgency attack,
hostage-taking at sea, and the threat of a nonconventional weapons strike.
The exercise will take place off the port of Piraeus, the largest port in
Observers from the seven-member security advisory group will attend
the exercise. They include Australia, Britain, France, Germany, Israel,
Spain and the United States.
Greek Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou stressed that the exercise
will take place despite the election campaign. He said there were no legal
barriers for the Greek military to participate in Olympic security.
So far, Greece has rejected a U.S. demand for the right of an American
to carry weapons within the Olympic Village, officials said. But they said
the issue would be resolved over the next few months.
"Olympic preparations will not be affected by the pre-election period,"
Denis Oswald, chairman of the International Olympic Committee's coordinating
commission for the 2004 Games, said. "The new people that are likely to
assume government positions after the elections are experienced and briefed
over Olympic issues."