Originally created 04/23/04

British anti-terror official praises Greek 'professionalism'

ATHENS, Greece -- A top British anti-terrorism official praised Greece's policing effort to safeguard the Olympics and said no decision has been made whether British guards accompanying their national team to Athens would carry guns.

"We are enormously impressed with the commitment, dedication and professionalism of our Greek colleagues," David Vennes, Scotland Yard's assistant commissioner of specialist operations, told state-run NET television from London.

"No firm decision has been made" on arming escorts, he said. "It's very, very clear the Greek authorities will have the lead on providing security."

Greece has insisted that no overseas security guards will carry weapons despite media reports that exceptions could be made with Britain, the United States and other countries considered to be at heightened risk of a terrorist attack.

Vennes chairs a seven-nation committee providing Greece with advice and training for its massive Olympic security operation, worth more than $800 million and involving more than 50,000 police and soldiers.


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