U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Saturday called on Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at the Fanar district of Istanbul during her visit to neighbouring Turkey, where she was warmly welcomed. Her meeting with the Patriarch was also attended by the Orthodox Archbishop of America Demetrios, who greeted her upon her arrival.
Sources in the Patriarchate later said that their talks had focused on issues of concern to the Patriarchate, including that of reopening the School of Theology on the island of Halki. On this, Clinton apparently remarked that "40 years of silence" for the seminary were enough and stressed the U.S. government's dedication to issues of religious freedom and its support for issues concerning the Patriarchate.
After her meeting with the Patriarch, Clinton was to attend a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, while she is due to arrive in Athens late on Saturday night.
Her agenda in Athens will include meetings with President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, Prime Minister George Papandreou, Foreign Minister Stavros Lambrinidis and Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Sunday.
Prior to her departure on Monday, she will also meet the head of Greece's main opposition New Democracy party, Antonis Samaras.
The debt crisis and possible investments are expected to dominate her talks with Greece's leadership, as will developments in Libya and the Middle East.
The Greek side will also raise issues of particular interest to Athens, such as the Cyprus issue, Greece's relations with Turkey, the name dispute with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and developments in Afghanistan.