Germany is staging one of its biggest ever security operations today for the visit of the US President, George Bush and his meeting with Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. Police have turned the small Rhine river town of Mainz into a fortress keeping thousands of residents in and shutting many more visitors out. During George Bush’s eight-hour stay there will be a strict ban on air traffic within a 40-kilometre radius.
Barges on the Rhine will be halted and surrounding motorways will all be closed, forcing factories, businesses and schools to shut down for the day. Around 10,000 police will be deployed in Mainz to guard the US President. The ring of steel around Mainz has already proved effective. On Tuesday night only around 300 protestors braved the extreme wintry weather for a warm-up anti-Bush protest. But many more have obtained special passes entitling them to demonstrate. Around 6,000 people are expected to take part in a rally against the president’s visit.