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Rome bristles with security ahead of Obama visit

US president to meet with pope, president and premier

26 March, 13:11
Rome bristles with security ahead of Obama visit

(ANSA) - Rome, March 25 - For days Italy's capital has been awash in American agents mingling with tourists and locals ahead of United States President Barack Obama's official visit on Thursday.

Obama, who is scheduled to land Wednesday night at Rome's Fiumicino airport aboard Air Force One, has been preceded by a cargo of food, soap and other products for his personal use brought in by C-130s directly from the US under strict security clearance.

Italy has also done its bit, deploying 1,000 police in the capital to watch over the American president as well as any other potential targets, such as embassies.

The bomb squad is also afoot, with dog units scouring the presidential itinerary.

On Thursday Obama will meets with Pope Francis at the Vatican, with President Giorgio Napolitano at the presidential palace, and with Premier Matteo Renzi at the Renaissance-built Villa Madama, where Italy often receives international guests.

Obama will also tour the Coliseum, which will be off-limits to the public the entire day, as will the area surrounding it.

He will be guided by an art historical expert from the city's archeology superintendency. Throughout the visit, Obama's motorcade will be watched over by a helicopter and by snipers placed on every building along the route.

The US president was last in Italy in 2009, when he attended a G8 summit of industrialized nations in the city of L'Aquila.