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Greece and Israel Explore Closer Ties

Greek Prime Minister Yiorgos Papandreou and his visiting Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu agreed last month to form a joint committee to strengthen ties between the two countries.

The committee would explore the possibility of cooperation on issues that include economy, investments and tourism.

According to press reports, Greece is seen as gaining in tourism from Israel since the Israeli raid (in late May) on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla that killed nine Turkish citizens. The raid caused major fallout between Israel and Turkey.

Many stories promoting Greek destinations have appeared in the Israeli press while it seems that Israeli tourists are giving Turkey the cold shoulder.

Press reports mentioned a 40 percent increase in the number of visitors from Israel to Greece in June compared to 2009. During the same month, Israeli visitors to Turkey dropped by 44 percent.

In addition, last month the president of the Chalkidiki Hotel Association, Grigoris Tasios, informed Deputy Culture and Tourism Minister Yiorgos Nikitiadis that this year and for the first time, some 2,000 Israeli tourists visited Chalkidiki.

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