Paris put on high alertfor Bush D-Day visit

4th June 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, June 4 (AFP) - France has deployed a massive security force ahead of US President George W. Bush's visit to Paris on Saturday, with 5,000 police officers and 1,500 soldiers patrolling the capital.

PARIS, June 4 (AFP) - France has deployed a massive security force ahead of US President George W. Bush's visit to Paris on Saturday, with 5,000 police officers and 1,500 soldiers patrolling the capital.

With all of France on red alert - the country's second-highest terror threat level - for this weekend's commemorations of the D-Day landings in Normandy, Paris was bracing for Bush's arrival and a cluster of demonstrations.

Thousands of anti-war protesters against the arrival in France of Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin were to be joined by trade union activists marching against social security reform, as well as supporters of gay marriage.

But protesters have been barred from entering the central Paris area where Bush is to spend most of his time - a sector that includes the US embassy off the place de la Concorde and French President Jacques Chirac's Elysee palace.

From 8:00 pm on Friday until 6:00 pm on Sunday, traffic will be blocked in and around the US embassy - where Bush and his wife Laura will spend Saturday night - including along a section of the fame Champs-Elysees.The Concorde metro station will be closed to the public for the duration of Bush's stay, police said.

Passers-by in the area will be systematically searched on Saturday, and extra metal barricades have been placed along the place de la Concorde.

Another area stretching from the Arc de Triomphe east to the Opera Garnier, south to the Tuileries gardens and across the Seine to Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin's Matignon residence will also be under close watch.

Section of the Tuileries will be closed to visitors throughout the weekend, as soldiers with infrared goggles guard the gardens and the Elysee

"I don't see how we could do anything more... aside from putting an aircraft carrier on the Seine," one gendarme told AFP on condition of anonymity.

For the first time, soldiers were on patrol at the capital's religious sites, including the Notre-Dame cathedral, the Paris mosque and the American church on the Left Bank.

Popular tourist destinations were also under surveillance, including the Louvre museum, the Eiffel Tower and the Versailles palace outside Paris, along with major department stores.

Four boats carrying French Foreign Legion bomb disposal experts began patrolling the Seine on Thursday, along with firefighters and police.Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin said earlier this week that France was looking to meet the "great challenge" of providing "exemplary security" for Bush's visit.

According to French officials, their US counterparts said they were satisfied with the security operation.

© AFP

Subject: French news


0 Comments To This Article