Powell Scraps Plan to Attend Olympics Ceremonies

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Secretary of State Colin Powell abruptly canceled plans to attend the Olympics closing ceremonies in Athens Sunday in part because of events in Iraq and Sudan, the State Department said.

U.S. officials denied Powell changed plans because of protests against U.S. foreign policy that were dispersed when police hurled tear gas Friday at about 1,000 demonstrators headed in the direction of the U.S. Embassy in Athens.

Saturday Greek activists hoisted a massive banner saying “Powell Killer Go Home” on the Acropolis hillside towering over Athens to protest against his planned 24-hour visit.

…The Greek government, which may have been embarrassed by Powell’s cancellation, said he told Molyviatis he could not come because of “pressing obligations” and that the two agreed he would visit Greece in the first half of October.

The International Olympic Committee declined to comment on Powell’s decision. But an organizer of protests in Athens said it was a victory for the anti-war movement.

“Of course, the cancellation was linked to our protests,” Yiannis Sifakakis told Reuters. “This is a huge victory for the anti-war movement which protested by the thousands in the streets of Athens last night. full article

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