Netanyahu in Athens to build Greek-Israel ties

Mr Papendreou lays a wreath at the grave of Theodor Herzl while in Israel in July

Mr Papendreou lays a wreath at the grave of Theodor Herzl while in Israel in July

Benjamin Netanyahu has arrived in Athens for a historic visit to Greece to discuss military cooperation, trade and tourism.

According to a top Israeli official, the prime minister’s two-day trip is a sign of “new warmth in Israeli-Greek relations".

Greece has only had diplomatic ties with Israel for 20 years and this is the first time an Israeli prime minister has officially visited the country.

It has prompted speculation that Israel is seeking a new regional relationship in the wake of the fatal clashes involving Turkish protesters on a Gaza-bound flotilla.

The growing diplomatic tensions with Turkey – historically Greece’s rival – have already seen increasing numbers of Israelis choose Greece rather than Turkey for a holiday destination.

Officials also said that Israel is interested in closer political and defence cooperation with Greece.

Prime Minister George Papandreou, who in July became the first Greek leader to visit Israel in three decades, has made clear his interest in playing a role in the Middle East peace process.

Last updated: 5:17pm, August 16 2010