Thu, April 09, 2009
World > Middle East > Obama's Europe, Middle East tour

Turkey ready for Obama's historic visit

2009-04-05 13:02:17 GMT2009-04-05 21:02:17 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

by Xinhua writers Lin Liping, Zheng Jinfa

ANKARA, April 5 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama will arrive at the Turkish capital of Ankara on Sunday evening, kicking off his first state visit to a Muslim nation after his inauguration January.

The Turkish government is expected to deploy over 4,000 policemen along with several other security measures during Obama's two day stay here.

Starting from 11:00 a.m. (8:00 GMT) on Sunday, strict security measures unfolded around the Sheraton Hotel in Ankara, a 24-storeytower building which will be closed for one day for Obama and his delegation's stay. Dozens of policemen and fly cops began to clear all vehicles parking on the roads around the hotel, some dragged away by tow trucks.

Traffic is already restricted. Hundreds of railings are ready to close off the area. No entry into the hotel is permitted except the police.

"We have deployed policemen and fly cops, and later we will follow with riot police and special police," an officer surnamed Mahamat, armed with gun, told Xinhua reporter.

The officer said the "Yellow Alert" level security measures will be increasingly tightened as Obama's arrival approaches. "We are going to deploy about 1,000 policemen here (around the hotel)," he added.

Obama is reportedly scheduled to arrive at Ankara's Esenboga Airport at around 9:15 p.m. (18:15 GMT), carried by the American Air Force One.

The other 3,000 policemen will be on guard at the airport and along the itinerary of Obama's convoy. Obama will head for downtown Ankara in one of two decoy cars and the Turkish police will operate jammers, which neutralize radio-controlled explosive devices, during Obama's short trip.

Turkish authorities' high-alert security work has signaled the great importance it attached to the historic visit by Obama, while the Turkish people also hold expectation from the tour of the new U.S. president, who has shown quite a different diplomacy from his predecessor George W. Bush.

"Bush likes to launch wars, Obama seems not. But I don't know, we have to see the outcomes (of the visit)," a Turkish fly cop on duty at the hotel, who would not give his name, told Xinhua reporter.

The U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 was widely opposed in Turkey. The Turkish parliament refused to allow the U.S. troops to deploy in Turkish territories to open a north front for the invasion, which harmed the U.S.-Turkey alliance.

"Turkey welcomes Obama's visit. Because Turkey opposes Bush's war against Iraq, it welcomes Obama's decision to pull out the U.S. troops stationed in Iraq," said Canan Uchoyuk, an English teacher.

She said Obama's visit is also good for Turkey's role in the Middle East region.

"We are looking forward to the results of Obama's visit," she said.

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