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Mossad helping Olympic security

Jacques Rogge
Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge has praised Athens' work on security.

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ATHENS, Greece -- Israeli security forces and the Mossad intelligence agency are playing key roles in security planning for the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Fearing that the international event could be a tempting target for terror attacks, Athens has budgeted more than $750 million on protecting the games and will deploy nearly 42,000 soldiers, police and other personnel.

A high level Israeli team, led by police chief Shlomo Aharonishky, visited Greece last month to help train the Greek forces, said police spokesman Gil Kleiman. The Greeks "are very interested in sharing our experience (in fighting) terror," Kleiman added.

"Israel is a key country with respect to providing intelligence information and training and drilling the Greek security forces," Greece's Public Order Minister Giorgos Floridis told the Israeli Haaretz daily in an interview published Friday.

Israel is one of seven countries helping Greece prepare its security plan for the August 13-29 Olympics. The others are the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Australia and Spain.

Floridis said his country had turned to Israel for help in developing feasibility studies on security, developing plans for handling suicide bombers and getting information on terror groups and potential threats.

"We are preparing for two sorts of threats," Floridis told Haaretz. "Targeted threats by terror organizations against national delegations -- for example a Chechen threat to the Russian delegation, or a Palestinian threat to Israel -- and a comprehensive threat to the delegations and the games that originates with al-Qaeda," he said.

Security evaluations have identified Greece's long coast line as a weak point, and Israel was also providing training for the Greek coast guard, Kleiman said.

Haaretz reported that a team from Israel's Shin Bet domestic intelligence agency would lead a training seminar for senior Greek officers later this month in Greece and that officers from the Greek anti-terror unit had undergone training in Israel.

Kleiman declined to confirm these reports.

Security precautions for Greece took on an added urgency after a series of suicide bombings in neighboring Turkey last month, claimed by al-Qaeda, and on Tuesday Floridis chaired the largest meeting ever on Olympic security

The closed-door meeting included officials from seven ministries, police chiefs and the Athens Organizing Committee. Also present were the heads of Greece's armed forces and National Intelligence Service.

Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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