ATHENS?President Barack Obama arrived in Greece Tuesday for the start of a weeklong trip overseas that will be dominated by efforts to assure nervous world leaders of continuity in U.S. alliances and key policies in the wake of Donald Trump's election victory.
With just two months left in office, Mr. Obama isn't expected to make major policy strides during stops in Greece, Germany and Peru. He chose to visit Europe during the last foreign trip of his presidency to underscore his concerns about the economic and security future of the continent, White House officials said.
While in Greece, his first visit to the country as president, Mr. Obama will meet with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. He will also attend a statedinner Tuesday evening.
On Wednesday Mr. Obama will tour the Acropolis before delivering a speech that will "focus on the important work that's been done to try to address the economic challenges in Greece and Europe and around the world," said Ben Rhodes, one of the president's deputy national security advisers.
Greece's government hopes Mr. Obama's visit will raise pressure on its international creditors, especially Germany, Europe's dominant lender, to offer substantial debt relief. Mr. Obama is due to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel, as well as other major European leaders, in Berlin later this week.
According to Greek officials, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew told Mr. Tsipras during a visit to Athens in July that the U.S. would like Greece's debt relief issue to be resolved before the end of its term.
The Obama administration was eager to prevent Greece's exit from the eurozone during the tense negotiations in 2015 that brought Greece close to the brink of financial meltdown. Since then, Washington has been trying to help broker a compromise between Greece and its creditors on how to reduce the country's debt burden.
Mr. Trump's election came as a shock to Greece, which, like most European governments, had hoped Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton would win and continue with much of Mr. Obama's foreign-policy agenda. In his sparse references to Greece before being elected, Mr. Trump has said the eurozone debt crisis isn't the U.S.'s problem and that European countries need to sort Greece out.
Mr. Tsipras is hoping for a strong statement from Mr. Obama in support of Greek debt relief while he is in Athens. Germany, however, has so far said relieving Greece's debt isn't a pressing issue, and Greece must first complete its tough program of economic overhauls.
Talks between Mr. Obama and the Greek government are also expected to cover the migration. Greece has been the main gateway into Europe for refugees and other migrants from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Europe's effort this year to close the route into Europe via the Balkans has left tens of thousands stranded in Greece. Migrants from the Middle East, South Asia and Africa continue to attempt dangerous sea crossings to Europe.
Mr. Obama's visit to Athens is expected to feature protests by anarchists, far-left groups and trade unions, who have called rallies despite a two-day ban on public gatherings in central Athens.
The Greek Communist Party called for mass participation in a Tuesday-afternoon march against the "representative of the imperialist powers."
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
November 15, 2016 05:15 ET (10:15 GMT)
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