Backing Off Criticism, US Sends Marines for Greek Joint Exercise

FILE - Greek PM Alexis Tsipras meets with the US Vice President Mike Pence, in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017. (Photo: PM's Press Office/Andrea Bonetti)

With the United States shying away from criticizing another jail furlough for a former terrorist group assassin whose organization’s murder toll of 23 included five Americans, some 300 US Marines arrived in the northern Greek city of Volos to join with Greek Marines in a joint military exercise.

Marines from the US’ 22 Marine Expeditionary Unit will join Greece’s 32nd Marine Brigade in the Alexander the Great exercise to train for military and security operations it was said.

It comes as Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, whose ruling Radical Left SYRIZA supported the vacation from jail for Dimitris Koufodinas – his fifth – despite convictions tied to his role in helping lead the Nov. 17 terror group, said he would end any American military presence.

Now, after a recent US-Greek Strategic Dialogue in Washington, Tsipras said relations with the United States are closer than ever even though part of SYRIZA’s platform and base had been virulently anti-American.

He also said he would take Greece out of NATO and not allow Greek troops on foreign soil but has reneged on both and part of the the deal he made for a new name for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) came as the US was said to be keen to get that country into the defense alliance as a bulwark against Russian interests in the Balkans.

The US State Department had denounced furloughs for Koufodinas but this time, coming on the heels of the Washington meeting, said nothing while the US Embassy also remained mum although the victims had worked there over the years.

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