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Wednesday, November 10, 1999 Published at 17:46 GMT


World: Europe

Clinton postpones Greece visit

Levi Strauss' Athens office was attacked by bombers

US President Bill Clinton has delayed his trip to Greece this weekend because of planned protests over his visit and disagreements over the agenda of talks, according to Greek and US officials.

The decision comes after a series of anti-American bomb attacks in the Greek capital, Athens.


BBC's Richard Lister: Many Greeks believe the US helped sustain a previous military junta
In the latest incident, four makeshift gas canister bombs exploded outside a car dealership in central Athens on Wednesday. A Greek anarchist group said it was its way of "welcoming" Mr Clinton.

The president's trip is opposed by many Greeks, angry at the US Government's leading role in Nato's bombing campaign against Yugoslavia earlier this year. Many Greeks sympathised with fellow Christian Orthodox Serbs during the Kosovo crisis.

President Clinton was due to spend three days in Greece, before attending the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe summit in Turkey. But the trip has now been put back until after the meeting.


[ image: Protesters called Clinton the
Protesters called Clinton the "Vampire of the Balkans"
Greek Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said following consultations "in the interest of Greek-US relations, the Greek Government has proposed that the visit ... take place on November 19 and 20."

US officials agreed to the change following recent protests and violent incidents in Athens.

By delaying the visit, President Clinton will arrive in Athens after next week's 17 November anniversary of a crackdown on pro-democracy students by the former military regime in 1973.

President Clinton said the cancellation was largely due to Greek concerns that a visit after the OSCE summit would be more productive than one held beforehand. "Whether the demonstrations had anything to do with it, I don't know, but they might have," he said.

American sites targeted

Greek leftists had planned large demonstrations against Clinton during the visit, although organisers had promised to keep them peaceful.


[ image: Riot police were deployed outside the US embassy in Athens during a protest on Monday]
Riot police were deployed outside the US embassy in Athens during a protest on Monday
On Monday around 3,000 people marched up to the US embassy in Athens, waving red flags and yelling "Go away Clinton! Greece isn't a protectorate!" and "Americans: fascists! murderers!"

Thousands of extra police were to be deployed for the state visit following a number of bomb explosions in the city over the past week, targeted at American sites.

A group calling itself Anti-Capitalist Action sent a deliberately misleading warning moments before an explosion outside the office of the American jeans company, Levi Strauss, in the northern Halandri area of the capital. There were no injuries.

In another attack, six shots were fired at the building of the Hellenic-American Union in Athens city centre. Police believe a group called Red Line, which has attacked American targets in the past, was behind the shooting.

Recent US newspaper articles have accused the Greek authorities of not doing enough to clamp down on terrorism.

A Greek source told the news agency Reuters that Washington was pressing Athens to sign an anti-terrorist pact and give the green light for Turkey to become a formal candidate for the European Union "without any substantial returns."





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