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Obama Wants No Comparison to Donald Trump

Obama Wants No Comparison to Donald Trump

Clashes spread around downtown Athens, with riot police firing tear gas as protesters tried to enter the zone Syriza had declared off limits.

(AP Photo/Markus Schreiber). German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, welcomes U.S. President Barack Obama for a meeting at the chancellery in Berlin, Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016.

Before leaving Washington, Obama gave an interview to Kathimerini, denouncing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and hailing Syriza's role in providing bases for Washington's Middle East wars, such as the naval base at Souda Bay.

The timing of the Obama's visit is also oddly ominous, occurring two days before the country's main annual anti-American demonstrations that commemorate the bloody 1973 suppression by military authorities of a pro-democracy uprising.

US President Barack Obama on Wednesday said globalisation needed a "course correction" to address growing inequality, in a speech full of pointed barbs at his successor Donald Trump. But he said "we can't look backwards for answers". He then headed for Germany.

Clinton's supporters say she faced a hard balancing act: She embraced Obama, hoping to avoid alienating his supporters, while simultaneously trying to acknowledge the persistent economic challenges and the uneven economic recovery.

The US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation grouping is "absolutely vital" to US interests and a strong, unified Europe is good for America and the world, Obama said.

On other issues, Obama said he hoped for continuity in US-European relations under Trump, saying "how important it is that we work together".

With reference to his upcoming meetings in Europe and Latin America with key world leaders, Obama cited the reality of America's need to trade for a healthy economy, maintained that the global Iran nuclear-for-sanctions deal was working and underlined the need for America to respect its commitment to the Paris climate accord.

Opening his final overseas trip as president, Obama acknowledged he was surprised by Trump's victory - and said it stemmed from deep-seated anxieties among working-class Americans that government must do better to address.

"We have very different points of view", he said. He renewed his pledge to ensure a peaceful transition despite his differences with Trump.

Obama has not weighed in directly on the leadership fight.

Tuesday's violence placed Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' left-wing Syriza party in an uncomfortable position: Formerly a key participant in anti-American and anti-austerity protests, it is now using the same crowd control measures it used to strongly deplore. He pushed his formerly small radical left party onto the forefront of Greece's tumultuous political scene by telling Greeks tired from six years of financial crisis and falling living standards that he would reject austerity measures imposed in return for the country's bailouts.

But after the near-collapse of negotiations with Greece's creditors, Tsipras performed a political about-face: He signed up to a new bailout and more austerity to prevent his country being forced out of the euro.

A guide from Greece's Ministry of Culture is accompanying Obama on his tour. He strolled through the Propylaea, the complex's monumental gateway, and gazed up at the famed Parthenon temple dating from the fifth century B.C.

The ancient site will remain closed to the public for the day to accommodate the president's visit. Demonstrations were banned in parts of Athens, and roads and subway stations were shut down for the first official visit of a sitting US president since Bill Clinton went in 1999.

Appearing receptive to Greece's woes, Obama repeated his belief that debt relief should be granted.

The debt-crippled country depends on global bailout loans, and has been forced by creditors to implement deep income cuts, tax hikes, welfare cuts and economic reforms. Despite the Obama administration's stance, lawmakers have banned the ability to spend money to transfer Guantanamo Bay detainees into the United States.

"Greeks rightly take pride as the founder of the Games - and in Leonidas of Rhodes who, for 2,000 years, held the record for winning 12 individual gold medals, the most of any athlete", Obama said. Many are living in poor conditions in massively overcrowded camps.

President Barack Obama says Greece's acceptance of refugees has "inspired the world" - but it can not handle Europe's migration problems alone.

"There's a serious challenge to European institutions right now", said Jeffrey Rathke, deputy director of the Europe Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.