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Jewish American leaders in Greece as relations warm between Greeece and Israel

Greek and Israeli officials say the two countries are in preliminary talks on potential energy deals involving Israeli offshore natural gas deposits.

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Alan Solow, from Major American Jewish Organisations in Greece

Alan Solow, Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, looks on while visiting a Holocaust memorial on Freedom Square in Thessaloniki. Photo:AAP

10 February 2011

A group of American Jewish leaders begun a five-day visit to Greece amid an improvement in once cool relations between Greece and Israel.

The delegation from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations visited a Holocaust memorial Tuesday in this northern Greek city.

They met Prime Minister George Papandreou in Athens on Thursday.

Greek and Israeli officials say the two countries are in preliminary talks on potential energy deals involving Israeli offshore natural gas deposits. Greece, now battling financial crisis, has traditionally close ties with Arab countries and the Palestinians.

In recent times, particularly after the election of the PASOK Papandreou government relations between Israel and Greece have warmed significantly.

The visit will start in Thessaloniki, where the Conference of Presidents will meet with the Mayor and Vice Mayor, tour sites of Jewish and archaeological interest, and dine with members of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece, the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki, politicians, local officials and prominent members of the business community.

In Athens, the delegation was received by the President of the Republic on Wednesday and a Conference took place at the King George hotel on Thursday with the participation of the Prime Minister and the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, National Defence, Citizen Protection, Culture and State.

During their stay in Athens, the Conference of Presidents will also be received by the Speaker of the Hellenic Parliament and meet with other political and religious officials, including the Prefect of Attiki, the Mayor of Athens and the Jewish Community of Athens.

Their itinerary also includes sightseeing in Athens and visits to sites of Jewish interest, and meetings have also been scheduled with the U.S. and Israeli Ambassadors to Athens.

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations visits a different country each year as part of their annual trip to Israel, and this is their first time visiting Greece.

The delegation includes Presidents and Executive Directors of some 50 American organisations that are members of the Conference, as well as heads of European Jewish communities.

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