Obama’s Belgian Stopover A Brussels Budget Buster
LONDON (CBS DC) – Though he was in the country for just 24 hours, guaranteeing President Obama’s safety cost Belgium over $10 million, reports The Guardian.
As the headquarters for NATO and the European Union, Brussels is used to providing security for world leaders.
The city hosts at least four EU summits a year, with each of these gatherings costing about $500,ooo for extra police.
But for the president’s first visit to the city, its four-stage security scale was raised from 2 to 3 and an intense security force surrounded the hotel where Mr. Obama spent the night.
Advance teams combed Brussels before the arrival, inspecting sewers and major hospitals. American military helicopters were given clearance to fly over the city.
Brussels provided 350 police and military forces to secure the president’s routes to the EU and NATO summits.
Already known for its often gridlocked streets, the city had to accommodate Obama’s entourage of about 900 people, 45 vehicles and 3 planes.
Brigitte Grouwels, who heads Brussels’ transportation department, tried to put the best face on the lockdown in many parts of the city. “Obama’s visit gives an excellent opportunity … to experience first hand a city unencumbered by cars, she said”
President Obama is now in Rome, where he will meet with Pope Francis.
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