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Greek Delegation Briefs US Officials on Olympic Security - 2004-01-16


The Greek official in charge of security for the summer Olympic Games in Athens is in the United States for talks Thursday and Friday with U.S. officials about what steps Greece is taking to ensure security.

Public Order Minister Giorgos Floridis is in Washington for one reason: to discuss his country's massive security preparations for the games. Greek officials say Olympic security operations are expected to cost more than $750 million, and involve at least 45,000 personnel.

During his two-day visit, Mr. Floridis is meeting with national security advisor Condoleezza Rice, as well as the head of the FBI, Robert Mueller, the U.S. attorney general, John Ashcroft, and the director of the CIA, George Tenet.

Speaking to reporters Thursday, Mr. Floridis said security resources have been dramatically increased since the last Olympic Games in Sydney.

"We have expended amounts of monies - three times as much as the Olympics in Sydney, we have also contributed three times the manpower compared to Sydney and we are sure these efforts together with the great cooperation we have from experts on the field of security we will achieve our goals," he said.

There have been concerns over Greece's ability to protect against terrorist attacks during the Games. But after meeting Thursday with Condoleezza Rice, Mr. Floridis said the National Security Adviser expressed confidence in the security preparations.

In addition to the United States, six other nations are advising Greece on security matters for the Games, including Israel, Australia and Britain.

The Olympic host-country plans to conduct security exercises next month for a potential chemical, biological or nuclear attack.

A joint security operation with U.S. and Greek troops is planned for early March.