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Mon Sep 01 09:42:57 SAST 2014

Tight security net to be thrown around Obama

SIPHO MASOMBUKA | 26 June, 2013 00:42
A US Marine Corps Chinook helicopter flew over Pretoria yesterday in a rehearsal for US President Barack Obama's weekend visit to South Africa
Image by: MUJAHID SAFODIEN/REUTERS

Hundreds of secret agents, three truckloads of bulletproof glass sheets, 56 support vehicles - and fighter jets.

These will all be part of the security deployed this weekend to ensure US President Barack Obama's safety during his visit to South Africa.

Referring to a US government internal planning document for the visit, the Washington Post reported that US Secret Service agents would be posted in secure facilities. An aircraft carrier with a fully equipped medical trauma centre will be part of the security arrangements.

According to the newspaper, support vehicles, which include 14 limousines, will be airlifted in by US military cargo planes.

US military helicopters were reportedly spotted yesterday flying over Pretoria and Johannesburg's northern suburbs.

National police spokesman Sally de Beer confirmed the US aircraft fly-overs, saying they were part of an exercise in conjunction with the US government to ensureeverything ran smoothly when Obama arrived.

"There is nothing out of the ordinary. No outside country is operating independently [and] there is no one taking over our country," she said.

Three Sea Knight helicopters and two Black Hawks were spotted flying over Illovo and Sandton.

ANC alliance partners Cosatu and the SACP have vowed to protest against the visit.

International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said Obama would be warmly welcomed on Friday, as would any other "friendly" head of state.

She said Obama's "historic visit" followed an invitation by President Jacob Zuma.

Obama will hold talks with Zuma in Pretoria on Saturday.

"The two leaders will discuss the status of relations between South Africa and the US.

"The talks will range from trade, health and education cooperation, development assistance to peace, security, development and cooperation in Africa," she said.

Obama will arrive on Friday and will preside over a Young African Leaders Initiative meeting at the Soweto campus of the University of Johannesburg.

He will visit Robben Island and a US-funded Desmond Tutu Centre in Noordhoek. He will speak at the University of Cape Town on Sunday.

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Mon Sep 01 09:42:57 SAST 2014 ::