The Latest: Violence breaks out in anti-US protest

AP News
Posted: Nov 15, 2016 1:49 PM
The Latest: Violence breaks out in anti-US protest

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — The Latest on President Barack Obama's final foreign tour as president (all times local):

8:40 p.m.

Riot police are using tear gas and stun grenades in Athens to disperse about 3,000 left-wing marchers protesting President Barack Obama's visit to Greece. This, after they tried to enter an area declared off-limits to demonstrators.

The violence broke out as youths in motorcycle helmets and gas masks, armed with wooden clubs and petrol bombs, tried to break a police cordon in front of a barrier formed by police buses. Rioters retired to the Athens Polytechnic university complex in the city center and engaged in running street fights with police.

There is a strong anti-American tradition among Greek left-wingers, who still resent U.S. support for Greece's 1967-74 military dictatorship.

Obama's visit comes just two days before the country's main annual anti-American demonstrations. These protests commemorate the bloody suppression, by military authorities, of the Polytechnic pro-democracy uprising.


8:30 p.m.

President Barack Obama is attending a state dinner hosted by Greece's president, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, in the ballroom of the presidential mansion in central Athens.

Obama stressed the ties of friendship in a brief speech that quoted from ancient Greek statesman and orator Pericles and touched on the Olympic Games originating in ancient Greece.

Obama said the two countries had "stood in solidarity in war and in peace, in good times and in bad, including in these very difficult years for the Greek people." The country is struggling to emerge from a deep six-year financial crisis.


5:45 p.m.

President Barack Obama says the prospects for a comprehensive and lasting settlement on the long-running division of Cyprus are "the best they have been for some time."

Cyprus has been divided into an internationally recognized Greek Cypriot south and a breakaway Turkish-Cypriot north since 1974. That's when Turkey invaded and occupied the northern part of the island in response to a coup pushing for a union with Greece.

Peace talks are under way and have been hailed as a real prospect for resolving the division.

Speaking in Athens, Obama says this doesn't mean "success is guaranteed," but the possibility of ending the decades-long conflict is there.


5:30 p.m.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras says he hasn't joined some other European leaders in criticizing Donald Trump.

Tsipras told a news conference with President Barack Obama that Trump had an "aggressive manner" in the campaign but he figures Trump will act differently in office.

The Greek leader says many are fearful that Trump will radically change U.S. foreign policy. He says despite those fears, "we should build bridges, not walls."

Tsipras says he knows little about Trump. But he says some people told him before the election that to better understand Trump, he should have read his book, "The Art of the Deal."


5:20 p.m.

President Barack Obama says he isn't buying the notion that Donald Trump's election victory is a rejection of his world views.

He says that the last time he checked polling, a pretty healthy majority of Americans agree with him on international affairs.

Speaking at a press conference in Greece, Obama says "sometimes people just feel as if we want to try something and see if we can shake things up."

Obama says he'll never apologize for saying the world's future will be defined by what people have in common rather than by what separates nations and leads to conflict.

He says nations that focus on inclusion will in the long-term be more successful.


5:15 p.m.

President Barack Obama is likening the difficulty in resolving problems in the European Union to the challenges of dealing with Congress.

Obama is holding a joint news conference in Athens with Greece's prime minister. He says Congress is hard to deal with, but dealing with multiple parliaments and commissions and other entities is "very complicated."

He says many European leaders have inherited problems and are trying to identify how to resolve them. A number of EU countries are considering their future membership in the bloc.

Obama says the U.S. has urged European countries to resolve banking problems quickly so other solutions can follow. He says that's more complicated because not all countries use the Euro currency.


5:10 p.m.

President Barack Obama says one of the lessons he's learned from recent elections is the need to address inequality, economic dislocation and people's fear that their children won't do as well as they have done.

Obama is being asked about what comparisons he draws from Donald Trump's election victory and the vote by Britain to leave the European Union.

Obama says there's a range of factors involved but it's clear that globalization, combined with technology and social media, disrupted people's lives. He says it's critical to address those real concerns and channel them in a positive way.

He also says that some of the rhetoric seen in the elections is "pretty troubling and not necessarily connected to the facts."


4:50 p.m.

President Barack Obama is praising Greece for its financial commitment to NATO — specifically, for being one of five NATO allies that dedicated at least 2 percent of its gross domestic product to defense spending.

Obama says Greece has met that threshold despite difficult times, and if it can do so, so should all NATO allies.

Obama has pushed for higher defense spending by NATO members. That issue surfaced during the presidential campaign as Donald Trump suggested that the U.S. would look at whether NATO members had paid their proper share in considering whether to come to their defense.

Trump challenged the strategic underpinnings of the NATO alliance. Obama is on his last foreign trip before Trump becomes president. And Obama is using this trip to try to underscore the U.S. commitment to the alliance.


4:40 p.m.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras of Greece says the U.S. economy has performed better than Europe's in recent years. He says that's because President Barack Obama committed to policies that promoted employment while Europe focused on austerity.

Tsipras is speaking at a press conference with Obama as the president makes his final foreign trip.

While some in the U.S. are unhappy with economic growth since the 2008 financial crisis, Tsipras is saying that the U.S. has experienced "impressive" growth while European economies have been trapped in "stagnation."

He says Greece is slowly but surely decreasing unemployment and restoring confidence in the nation's economy.


2:40 p.m.

President Barack Obama says austerity alone cannot deliver prosperity to the Greek people and that debt relief and other strategies will be needed.

Obama is pushing Europe to grant debt relief to Greece as it continues on its economic recovery. Obama says reforms undertaken by the Greek government haven't been easy but were necessary and will make the nation's economy more competitive in the long-term.

Obama's comments are taking place prior to a meeting with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. The prime minister says he hopes Obama's last trip to Europe brings about important results.


2 p.m.

President Barack Obama is assuring the Greek people that the United States considers the NATO alliance a cornerstone of its security and that its commitment to it is unwavering.

President-elect Donald Trump campaigned saying he would look at NATO and complained that the U.S. has been paying more than its fair share. Obama says the strong NATO relationship between the United States and Greece is of the upmost importance.

Obama is meeting with President Prokopis Pavlopoulos as part of his final foreign trip. Obama says he considered it important to visit the birthplace of democracy.

As they begin their meeting, Pavlopoulos is telling Obama that the U.S. has every reason to look forward to a strong and prosperous Europe, and that Greece is committed to the European Union.


11 a.m.

President Barack Obama has been greeted with a military honor guard in navy and green uniforms and a military band after stepping off Air Force One on a windy and chilly morning.

Among the dignitaries greeting the president were Greece's minister of national defense, "Panos" Kammenos, and the U.S. ambassador to Greece, Geoffrey Pyatt.

On his first day in Greece, Obama will meet with President Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, plus hold a news conference with Tsipras.


10:40 a.m.

President Barack Obama has arrived in Greece on the first stop of his final foreign tour as president.

Air Force One touched down midmorning in Athens after an overnight flight from Washington. On his first day in Greece, Obama will meet with President Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, plus hold a news conference with Tsipras.

On Wednesday, he'll tour the Acropolis and give a major speech about democracy and globalization before he flies on to Berlin. From Germany, Obama will travel to Peru for an Asian economic summit before returning to Washington on Saturday.

Obama's trip will be dominated by questions and concerns about President-elect Donald Trump. Obama is working to reassure foreign leaders the U.S. won't abandon its partnerships and alliance obligations despite Trump's tough campaign rhetoric.