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Greece's Security Minister Tries to Allay Concerns About Security at the Olympics - 2004-05-06

Greece's security minister sought Thursday to allay fears about security measures during the upcoming Olympic games in his country. The triple bombing in Athens earlier this week embarrassed Greek officials. U.S. officials have offered security assistance for the games.

Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis made the rounds of senior security officials in Washington Thursday to offer reassurances about the security of the Olympic games.

Mr. Voulgarakis met with National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice and Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge, among others. Mr. Ridge is reported to have offered Greece the assistance of U.S. counter-terrorism experts. A statement issued in Athens quotes Mr. Ridge as expressing confidence in Greece's security preparations for the games, but makes no mention of any U.S. security help.

A triple bombing occurred outside a police station in Athens Wednesday. No one was injured in the blasts, but the attack highlighted potential security gaps as the August date for the opening of the games approaches.

Speaking on the U.S. cable channel C-SPAN, Mr. Voulgarakis said Greece will be ready for the games.

"Greece will be surrounded, will have an umbrella," he said. "This stuff is very important for us because if we like to do the Olympic games as we have them in mind, that presupposes that we have to ensure that the level of safety that we can give is the highest, the highest possible."

No one has claimed responsibility for the Athens blasts. Greek authorities have painted the attack as most likely the work of a homegrown radical fringe group and downplay any linkage to the summer games.

The Athens games are the first summer Olympics to be held since the terror attacks of September 11th, 2001. Greece is spending nearly $1 billion on security for the games, nearly three times the security expenditure for the 2000 games in Sydney, Australia.