United States Defence Secretary, Melvin Laird, has arrived in Athens for a round of talks with Greek leaders.
United States Defence Secretary, Melvin Laird, has arrived in Athens for a round of talks with Greek leaders. Discussions are expected to centre on ways of strengthening NATO's southern flank in the light of reported Soviet naval buildup in the Mediterranean.
Mr. Laird, the first American cabinet minister to visit Greece since the 1967 coup, was expected to cover a Greek proposal for the establishment of a NATO regional headquarters in Athens. He was also to discuss with the Greek Government proposals for the resumed delivery of American heavy arms following the United States decision to lift its arms embargo imposed since the coup.
The removal of the embargo will permit the flow of American heavy arms which the Greek regime has been seeking since it came to power. The embargo had deprived Greece of vital weapons and weakened the southern flank of NATO. The first shipment of arms will probably involve heavy tanks and F-104 and Phantom combat aircraft.
On his arrival at the airport, Mr. Laird said the Mediterranean area was receiving a challenge at the present time "because of the increased activities of the communists and in particular of the Soviet Union..... we members of the NATO alliance are prepared to meet this challenge in the decade of the 1970's.
The American Defence Secretary is expected to leave Greece for Malta on Monday.