Obama makes final trip as US president to Greece, delivers reassuring words
ATHENS, Greece (AP):
Barack 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 recognise 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 is of "utmost importance" and would provide "significant continuity even as we see a transition in government in the United States."
Pavlopoulos, for his part, thanked Obama for US support of the Greek people in a time of social and economic crisis, and said he was confident that Trump "will continue on the same path."
Trump's election has generated significant unease in Europe because of his tough talk during the campaign suggesting the US might pull out of the NATO alliance if other countries don't pay more.
Obama's reassurances reflect an attempt to ease the deep concerns about Trump and the future of America's treaty alliances. Yet they may be greeted with skepticism: For months throughout the campaign, Obama repeatedly assured world leaders in public and private that Trump would not be elected, only to see him emerge victorious from last week's election.
Obama 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 pledged to keep pressing his view that "austerity alone cannot deliver prosperity and that it is going to be important both with respect to debt relief and other accommodative strategies to help the Greek people in this period of adjustment."