A visit to Greece by the US Secretary of State has sparked mass protests in the capital. Thousands of people, mostly leftist and anti-war activists, have gathered, demanding that Condoleezza Rice leave the country. Large numbers of police have been deployed around Athens.
The demonstrators had vowed to march on the heavily protected US embassy but were pushed back by riot police firing tear gas. The rally turned violent when some protesters including a small group of anarchists clashed with security forces. They threw fire-bombs, burnt cars and smashed shop windows. There have been no reports of injuries.
There is a long tradition in Greece of activists protesting against visits from US officials. Away from the violence, Rice was greeted by her Greek counterpart, meeting later with the Prime Minister. She said on the agenda were discussions on the Balkans and ways to end the division on the island of Cyprus. Rice is on a five-day tour of Europe – her next stop is Turkey.