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Obama: World leaders must heed people's economic fears

Published:Wednesday | November 16, 2016 | 12:00 AM


Drawing a broad lesson from the election of Donald Trump, President Barack Obama said yesterday that world leaders need to pay attention to people's very real fears of economic dislocation and inequality in the midst of


"The more aggressively and effectively we deal with those issues, the less those fears may channel themselves into counterproductive approaches that can pit people against each other," Obama said as he opened the last foreign tour of his presidency.

Obama, in a joint news conference with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, said that both Trump's election and the British vote to leave the European Union reflected the need to deal with "people's fears that their children won't do as well as they have.

"Sometimes, people just feel as if we want to try something and see if we can shake things up," Obama said.


The president seemed sceptical that "the new prescriptions being offered" would satisfy the frustrations and anger evident in election. And he played a bit of defence, saying that his agenda over the past eight years had dealt with economic issues head-on and "the country's indisputably better off".

Obama added pointedly that some of the rhetoric seen in the elections was "pretty troubling and not necessarily connected to the facts".

Tsipras, for his part, said he had refrained from rushing to criticising Trump as some other European leaders had done, saying that the Republican's "aggressive manner" as a candidate might be different as president. He predicted that "in the near future, not much is going to change in the relations between the EU, Greece and the United States of America".

Tsipras added that it was one thing to criticise Trump during the campaign and another thing now that Trump will be a "major player" in the world.

Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos played host at an official dinner for Obama at the presidential mansion in the evening.

Obama's visit sparked minor clashes in Athens as left-wing demonstrators tried to break a police cordon and were repelled with tear gas. No injuries or arrests were reported. About 3,000 anarchists, left-wing group supporters and students marched through the city centre in a demonstration originally planned to reach the US Embassy in another part of town.