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Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) Discusses Congressional Issues At AHI Noon Forum
June 16, 2000 No. 34/2000 (202) 785-8430

Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) Discusses Congressional Issues At AHI Noon Forum

At the AHI Noon Forum held on June 14, 2000 Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) discussed the forthcoming Senate agenda for the remaining session of the 106th Congress. He also reviewed US relations with Greece and Cyprus.

Following an introduction Mr. Manny Rouvelas, partner in Preston Gates Ellis and Rouvelas Meeds LLP, Senator Johnson started his remarks by drawing on his experience as a member of the Budget Committee. He noted that the reality of large budget surpluses had created a philosophic debate between the two parties about the course of public spending. In general Democrats preferred to use the additional funds for infrastructure spending while the Republicans favored tax cuts.

Turning to international affairs, Senator Johnson highlighted his support for Permanent Normal trade Relations with China. He hoped the Senate would have an early opportunity to vote on this issue. He further hoped that in the forthcoming appropriations round adequate resources for the U.S.' international operations would be voted.

With reference to Greece, Senator Johnson emphasized Greece's importance in the Easteen Mediterranean and Southeast Europe. Recalling his own visit to Greece in 1999, he stated that his main impression was that Greece was "on the cusp of achieving full economic prosperity and political maturity." A strong prosperous Greece was in the American interest.

On regional matters, Senator Johnson said that he was encouraged by Greece's warmer relations with Turkey. He hoped that this would provide favorable conditions for a resolution of the Cyprus problem. Recently he had co-signed a letter to President Clinton urging the Administration to give a high priority to Cyprus. Other signatories were Senators Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Gordon Smith (R-OR), Spencer Abraham (R-MI), Paul Sarbanes (D-MD), Joseph Biden (D-DE) and Charles Robb (D-VA).

In a lively Q & A session, topics raised included Cyprus, the Aegean. Kosovo and terrorism.

AHI was pleased to welcome among the participants Ms. Chrysa Arapagolou, MP for Thessaloniki in the Greek Parliament, Minister Alexis Christopoulos of the Greek Embassy and Mr. George Chacalli of the Embassy of Cyprus.