ATHENS, Greece (AP) – The Latest on President Barack Obama’s final foreign tour as president. (all times local):
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 utmost 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.
(story by The Associated Press with minor editing by WJTV)