Karamanlis says not allow US arms to Israel via Greek ports
Shipping charters showed the U.S. military was seeking a vessel to deliver 325 standard 20-foot containers of ammunition from Astakos to Israel as the offensive in Gaza is remaining.
Greece has not allowed the shipment of U.S. arms to Israel through its ports despite a request from the U.S. military in November, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said on Friday.
Reports that the U.S. Navy wanted to ship ammunition from the western Greek port of Astakos to stockpile in Israel caused an outcry this week from the opposition and media in Greece, where the Gaza conflict is deeply unpopular.
A Pentagon spokesman said on Tuesday the shipment to the stockpile had been cancelled at the request of the Greek government.
"Last November, when there was no conflict in the region, the American side raised an issue of transporting arms from the Astakos port," Karamanlis told parliament.
"The ship came close to Astakos port at the beginning of this month, but they did not have permission from the Merchant Marine Ministry, so the shipment did not take place."
Shipping charters obtained by Reuters showed the U.S. military was seeking a vessel to deliver 325 standard 20-foot containers of ammunition on two separate journeys from Astakos to the southern Israeli port of Ashdod in mid-to-late January.
Greece's opposition Socialist party (PASOK), which holds a poll lead after rioting in Greek cities last month triggered by the police killing of a teenager, said on Tuesday that government allowed arms shipments for more than a year.
Responding to a parliamentary question from PASOK about alleged shipments dating back to September 2007, Karamanlis said: "I dismiss this totally. There haven't been any shipments ... This has not happened at Astakos, or any other Greek port."
He added: "Finally, I am emphasising the need for an end to what is happening in Gaza."
Israeli strikes killed more than 1100 Palestinians in three weeks of fighting in Gaza. Three of the victims are children. Talks were in progress on Friday on a possible truce.
On Wednesday, Amnesty International called for a complete arms embargo on all parties in the conflict and urged the Greek government not to allow its ports to be used to ferry munitions to Israel.
Reuters Last Mod: 17 Ocak 2009, 11:57