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DC09

Greece Will Allow Armed Foreign Troops @ Olympics

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ATHENS, July 20 - Under intense pressure from the United States, Greece will allow 400 American Special Forces soldiers to be present at the Olympic Games next month under NATO auspices and will also permit American, Israeli and possibly British security officers to carry weapons, Greek and American officials said.

The delicate arrangements, which the officials say will not be formally acknowledged for fear of roiling anti-American sentiment, represent a significant departure from Olympic tradition, as well as from Greek law, which prohibits foreign personnel from carrying weapons within the country. Until now, the only nation known to have armed its security forces at the Olympics is Israel, whose agents have been carrying arms largely without prior approval from host countries since 1972, when Black September, a Palestinian group, killed Israeli athletes and officials in the Olympic Village in Munich.

In addition to the Special Forces, the agreements call for 100 armed American agents to be used largely as bodyguards for American athletes and dignitaries. The F.B.I. is also sending a hostage rescue team, as well as evidence-gathering and analysis personnel who will be pressed into service in the event of an attack. They, too, will be armed, said an American law enforcement official.

Despite the agreements, Greece and the United States are still in prickly negotiations over the rules that will govern the American security agents - how many there will be, what kind of weapons they can carry and when they can use them, and where they can operate, American and Greek officials said.

"I am certain we are going to be able to carry our guns," an American official said. "I'm not sure what we're going to own up to." The Greeks had made a number of other concessions on security matters that the Americans will not admit to, he said. "We must do this in a way that gives the Greeks their national pride."

The issue of American agents' being allowed to carry guns is extremely delicate here. Feelings about national sovereignty are strong, and the news media harshly criticize any government that makes concessions to the United States, or is seen to be compromising Greek sovereignty. The Greek government, which continues to state publicly that no weapons will be allowed, has also been worried that if it is publicly known that United States forces are going to be carrying weapons, other countries will demand similar rights. The Greeks have had serious discussions with other European countries, principally Germany and Spain, Greek and European officials said. Both have now agreed not to send armed escorts.

Intelligence agencies have not picked up information that Al Qaeda is planning an attack at the Games, officials from several countries said in interviews over the past few days, and they expressed confidence that the extraordinarily elaborate security provisions will leave the Olympic sites - and the 16,000 athletes and officials - secure.

The United States and other NATO countries, along with other nations, are deeply involved in the vast security plans for the Games, which the Greek government estimates will cost $1.2 billion. The safety net involves Awacs planes; United States Navy frogmen in the port of Piraeus, where the ships carrying V.I.P.'s will dock; radiation detection devices along Greece's borders; and cameras in stadiums and elsewhere to look for terrorist suspects. The Greeks say they will have 70,000 of their own soldiers and police officers on the streets, but some foreign advisers caution that the number may be inflated by volunteers.

Still, the Americans are preparing for any eventuality.

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5 mins before posting this message, I happened to read an article in BBC.com into which the Greek minister Mr. Meimarakis stated clearly that the Greek Forces will have the full and only control over the safety of the Olympic games grin2.gif

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5 mins before posting this message, I happened to read an article in BBC.com into which the Greek minister Mr. Meimarakis stated clearly that the Greek Forces will have the full and only control over the safety of the Olympic games

The Greeks should be the only ones with armed forces there, are much as US and Isreali troops are probably better trained its not their country, or even their continent.

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I think these Olympics, considering the current world situation, really will have that fear of something, akin to the Munich atrocity, happening again.

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Small correction. The name of the Greek minister was Boulgarakis.

(Not that it makes much difference) w00t.gif

As for the safety, I agree that it must be the Olympics with the biggest tension. I guess you do what you can do, and then hope for the best. There's always scenarios you haven't foreseen, always cases you don't expect.

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