U.S. President and Greek Prime Minister will discuss ways to enhance their countries partnership – “Relations at their best level ever in modern history”, according to State Department Official
New York.- By Apostolos Zoupaniotis/GreekNewsOnline
The White House announced on Saturday that U.S. President Donald J. Trump will welcome the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on October 17, 2017. In a written statement, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said “President Trump and Prime Minister Tsipras will discuss ways to enhance our partnership and demonstrate our shared commitment to enduring democratic values that are so important to securing peace and prosperity around the world”.
They will discuss a range of bilateral and regional issues, “including defense cooperation, economic investment, energy security, and the strong cultural ties that have bound Americans and Greeks together.”
On Friday, asked during the White House regular briefing, Sanders had confirmed a meeting on October 17.
Foreign minister Nikos Kotzias, Defense minister Panos Kammenos, Minister for Economy and Development Dimitris Papadimitriou, along with Minister for Digital Policy Nikos Pappas (among others) will accompany the Prime Minister in his visit.
According to diplomatic sources, US Administration will extend to the Greek Prime Minister a warm welcome. Alexis Tsipras will stay at the Blair House – where foreign leaders on official visits are hosted by the White House – and there will be a joint press conference with President Trump at the White House’s “Rose Garden”, following their meeting.
Prime Minister Tsipras and his delegation will also meet, in addition to Vice-President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson as well as the Secretary of Defense General James Mattis and other senior administration officials, including from the Department of Treasury, as attracting US investment to Greece is high on the agenda.
In Washington Prime Minister Tsipras will meet IMF’s Managing Director Christine Lagarde and he is expected to speak at the Brookings Institution. On Monday, October 16, the Prime Minister and his delegation will attend a dinner in their honor offered by the AHEPA and AHI.
A top issue in the bilateral agenda is the extension of the agreement for the use of the Souda Bay Base by the U.S. Navy. The base plays a crucial strategic role in the U.S. plans to combating ISIS, fighting terrorism and protecting the energy routes in the Middle East and the Gulf. U.S. Congress has approved for the fiscal years 2018-19 funds of $40,145 million for improvements in the base, despite the fact that no agreement has yet signed.
A senior State Department official was saying recently that when some time last Spring, a U.S. Aircraft Carrier in the Mediterranean was seriously damaged, because of Souda Base they were able to repair it in days, rather than in months if it had to sail back to the United States.
“We just flew over to Souda by plane the parts and we fixed it”, the official said.
The agenda of the talks also includes regional issues such as Cyprus, the dispute with fYROM over the name issue, the Greco-Turkish relations etc. Foreign Minister Kotzias is expected to have talks – a couple of days earlier with President Trump’s National Security Advisor General H.R. McMaster, in order to prepare the meeting of the two leaders. .
Washington regards the Greek – American relations to be “at their best level ever in modern history”, according to a Senior State Department Official.
“There is enthusiastic support for the United States in Greece and we are also extending our support to Greece”, he said.
Greece’s major geopolitical role has led to increased interest by the US administration and as it was explained in many occasions by Prime Minister Tsipras himself and Foreign Minister Kotzias, Greece is a pillar of stability in a very volatile area and its initiatives with Cyprus, Israel, Egypt, Jordan, as well as Balkan countries, seek peace, cooperation and prosperity for the nations of the region. As it was said, Tsipras is the only Greek head of state to have met two US presidents in less than a year.
Prime Minister Tsipras will start his U.S. visit from Chicago, on Saturday, October 14, where he will have meetings with Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel. On Monday, before departing for Washington D.C. he will address the Chicago Council of Global Affairs.
His itinary in Chicago includes visits to Chicago Cinespace (the largest movie studios in Mid-West managed by Greek American Alex Pissios), visits to internet incubators helping start-up companies, a dinner with Greek American business leader John P. Calamos – whose fund paid over 700 million euros to buy “Ethniki Asfalistiki” insurance company – a lunch with members of the Illinois congressional delegation, a visit to the National Hellenic Museum and an event with the Greek American Community. HALC’s (Hellenic American Leadership Council) Executive Director Endy Zemenides assisted with many of the meetings.