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Chinese,Greek denfence ministers discuss defence ties
     (ANA news 22 May)Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis on Monday received his visiting Chinese counterpart Gen. Cao Gangchuan for a meeting in Athens, a continuation of burgeoning Greek-Sino political relations coming on the heels of an official visit to the People's Republic of China (PRC) by Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis in January 2006.

    Talks mostly focused on international issues and expanding current defence ties between the two countries.

    Gen. Gangchuan briefed the Greek ministry's political leadership over a handful of crucial issues in China's vast region, including the thorny North Korea nuclear programme.

    On his part, Meimarakis briefed the top Chinese military official over Greece's national issues, while he also cited Beijing's increased understanding of a series of international issues.

    A set of bilateral agreements agreed to during the meeting include the establishment of a permanent joint bilateral committee to propose and promote an upgrading of current defence cooperation; cooperation between Athens' military studies and defence analysis institute with corresponding institutes and think tanks in China; exchanges of visits of top military brass; training of military personnel of both countries in peacekeeping missions as well as beginning Greek-language courses in Chinese military academies and Chinese-language courses in corresponding Greek academies.

    Among others, Greek military officers were invited to observe a military exercise in China this year, while Gen. Gangchuan also extended an official invitation to Meimarakis to visit Beijing, with a date to be determined via diplomatic channels.

    In an unrelated development, Gen. Gangchuan was asked about the placement of US anti-ballistic missile systems in east Europe, to which he replied that whatever decision is taken by any country must be based on the "region's interests, and in general, on international community's interests".


    Caption: Greek Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis (R) greets his counterpart Gen. Cao Gangchuan in Athens on Monday, May 21, 2007. ANA-MPA / STR
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