Israeli president lauds Greece over thwarting Gaza flotilla

09:56, July 12, 2011      

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Israeli President Shimon Peres on Monday thanked his Greek counterpart, Karolos Papoulias, for his country's role in blocking the international aid flotilla to the Gaza Strip.

Following a meeting with Papoulias at the official presidential residence in Jerusalem, Peres thanked Papoulias for his personal involvement in thwarting the plans of pro-Palestinian activists to breach Israel's maritime blockade on the coastal enclave.

"I thank Greece for following the instructions of the United Nations secretary-general and stopping the flotilla," Peres said in a statement issued by his office.

"You didn't allow people who are interested in violating public order and international law to reach Gaza. Greece showed the UN that it stands at its disposal and your contribution helped calm the region and Gaza itself," Peres said.

Athens last week banned some 10 ships anchored at its ports from setting sail to Gaza. In one instance, Greek commandos were dispatched to chase down a French vessel that defied the official order.

On Monday afternoon, Papoulias met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who echoed Peres' gratitude to Greece for helping thwart the flotilla, as well as assisting Israel in extinguishing the largest forest fire in Israel's history last December.

Netanyahu said that Israel and Greece maintain a "deep friendship" and that economic and tourist ties between the countries should be strengthened.

Papoulias's visit comes as Greece is entangled in its worst economic crisis in its modern history.

Earlier in the day, Papoulias told Peres that Greece is seeking to cooperate with Israel in "many matters," including Israel's recent discoveries of offshore natural gas reservoirs.

The Greek president also said he would be happy to receive some "golden advice" from his Israeli counterpart, who successfully led Israel through a severe economic crisis in the mid-1980s.

Papoulias previously visited Israel in November 2005.

Source: Xinhua
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