President Obama opened his final foreign trip as president Tuesday with reassuring words in Greece about the US commitment to NATO even as he prepares to hand off to a Donald Trump administration, saying Democratic and Republican administrations alike recognize the importance of the alliance to the trans-Atlantic relationship. Without mentioning Trump by name, Obama told Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos that a strong NATO would provide "significant continuity even as we see a transition in government" in the US, per the AP. Pavlopoulos thanked Obama for US support of the Greek people in a time of social and economic crisis and said he was confident Trump "will continue on the same path," though Trump has suggested the US might pull out of NATO if other countries don't pay more.
Obama, who's making the first visit to Greece by a sitting US president since Bill Clinton in 1999, also met Tuesday with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, and offered a welcome message of support for the Greeks as they struggle with both economic woes and a huge influx of refugees. Obama and Tsipras were to hold a joint news conference later in the day, and Pavlopoulos was hosting an official dinner for Obama in the evening. On Wednesday, Obama is scheduled to tour the Acropolis and give a major speech about democracy and globalization before flying on to Berlin. More than 5,000 police were deployed in Athens for the two-day visit. Left-wing and anarchist groups have planned protest demonstrations for Tuesday afternoon, while an armed anarchist group has called for "attacks and clashes" to disrupt Obama's visit.