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Israeli FM Lieberman in Athens

The Greek-Israeli strategic relationship that was cemented through the meeting between PMs Antonis Samaras and Binyamin Netanyahu last October and the signing of more than ten agreements is being further augmented through a two day visit by Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Liebermann to Athens.

Diplomatic sources note that the visit is linked to the Greek EU presidency, as the Israelis are skeptical about the EU stance in the event that talks with the Palestinians collapse.

More specifically, Israel wants to secure a good word from Greece that they are earnestly involved in the talks and doing everything for their success.

Bilateral economic relations will be at the focus of meetings the Israeli minister will have with Mr Venizelos, as well as with president Papoulias . During the meeting with parliament president Vagelis Meimarakis, Mr Lieberman is expected to table the issue of direct collaboration between the parliaments of the two countries.

Mr Lieberman will also meet with the ministers of defense and citizen security as bilateral collaboration on issues of defense and illegal immigration is very close.

In any event, diplomatic sources note that the future of the Leviathan natural gas field and its exploitation, and transportation of the gas will be issues of vital interest, and the possibility of transporting the gas via southern Crete will be examined.

Mr Lieberman assured the Greek government last October that Israel does not like the option of transporting the gas through Turkey, as it would mean Israel being held hostage by Mr Erdogan. However, talks between Turkey and Israel are ongoing as concerns damages for the Mavi Marmara incident, although the two sides seem close to reaching an agreement.

The Israeli minister is certain to ask Mr Venizelos about his trip to Teheran, as Israel has been very critical of the West's attitude towards Iran and its nuclear program, and continue to believe that the Iranian regime is untrustworthy despite the seeming moderation of its newest cabinet.