US President Barack Obama visits Greece during final overseas trip as president

November 15, 2016 8:00 pm

President Barack Obama arrives in Greece at start of his final foreign tour on Tuesday, November 15, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

US President Barack Obama has begun his last official overseas trip, embarking on a three-nation tour as he seeks to calm the nerves of allies concerned by Donald Trump’s shock presidential election victory.
Obama flew into the Greek capital of Athens on Tuesday to hold talks with President Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
The outgoing US president will also visit the Acropolis, an ancient citadel located above the city of Athens, where he will deliver a speech on the challenges of globalization and democracy.
On Wednesday, Obama travels to Germany, where he will speak with Chancellor Angela Merkel, as well as British and French leaders.
He will conclude his tour with a stop in the South American nation of Peru for a summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC).
NATO a ‘vital’ alliance 
Speaking in Athens after his arrival, Obama stressed that a strong Europe was “good for the world and the US,” after Trump appeared to downplay the importance of the NATO military alliance.
Obama stressed that the US-dominated Western military alliance was the “cornerstone of our mutual security as well as prosperity” regardless of who was sitting in the White House.
“Across Democratic and Republican administrations there is a recognition that the NATO alliance is absolutely vital,” he said.
European nations, particularly those in the eastern part of the continent that is closest to Russia’s borders, are worried about Trump who has called into question Washington’s near 70-year security guarantee by saying he would only defend NATO allies if they paid their way.
‘Shoulder to shoulder’ with Greece
During a meeting with President Pavlopoulos, Obama said the US would stand “shoulder to shoulder” with the crisis-hit country through its economic challenges ahead.

Obama shakes hands with his Greek counterpart during their meeting at the Presidential Mansion in Athens, November 15, 2016. (Photo by AP)

“Greece has gone through very challenging economic times over the last several years. And it has been the policy of my administration to do everything we can to work with the Greek government and the Greek people to restore growth and optimism and to alleviate hardship,” he said.
Obama was expected to discuss Greece’s debt problem as well as the migrant crisis with Pavlopoulos and Prime Minister Tsipras. 
“We consider this visit will contribute to the effort to reduce Greece’s debt,” a government spokesman told Reuters.
The country’s trade unions and leftist parties plan demonstrations to denounce “imperialist” US involvement in wars in the Middle East.

Obama meets with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras at Maximos Palace in Athens, November 15, 2016. (Photo by Reuters)

Many Greeks are suspicious of Washington after it helped install a repressive dictatorship in the country in the late 1960s.
“Butcher Obama is not wanted,” the PAME trade union said, while the left-leaning Efimerida ton Syntakton newspaper said Obama’s drone attacks have already killed about 4,700 people.
Several residents from Athens said they did not believe a visit by an outgoing president will have any benefits.
“He’s just here for a stroll. Somebody else is taking over, and from a different political party at that, so there are no commitments binding (on his successor),” said pensioner Costas Bousgos.
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