After protests, Powell cancels trip to Greece

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Secretary of State Colin Powell canceled his trip to Greece at the last minute partly because of concern his presence -- expected to be met with anti-war protests -- might have disrupted the closing ceremony at the Olympics, State Department officials said Saturday.
Powell's decision, announced just hours before he was to depart, came after anti-American protests in Athens on Friday that featured "Powell Go Home" placards.
The secretary was not concerned about his own security but felt Greek organizers were entitled to carry out tonight's ceremony without the potential for distraction that his presence might have caused, said two State Department officials, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Questioning visit
Many Greeks had wondered why Powell planned to visit this weekend, knowing his presence would likely provoke protests. Until Powell announced his visit, there had been none of the anti-American demonstrations that were feared in the run-up to the games.
He discussed the situation on Friday with Greek Foreign Minister Petros Moliviatis. Powell said he hopes to travel to Athens in October.
The officials said a contributing factor was the U.N. Security Council's debate this week over the performance of the Sudanese government in carrying out a council resolution last month on Darfur.
The council set Monday as the deadline for Sudan to demonstrate it is acting to improve security and humanitarian access in Darfur and to curb Arab militias in the western Sudanese region.
Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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