President Barack Obama’s visit to Brussels will cost the city more than $10 million, the mayor said.
President Barack Obama steps off of Air Force One at Zaventem airport in Brussels, Tuesday, March 25, 2014. Obama is on a one-day visit to Belgium to meet with EU leaders and visit the WWI Flanders Fields American Cemetery. (AP)
Brussels Mayor Yvan Mayeur told the Guardian the city will spend roughly $10.4 million ensuring Obama's safety during his 24-hour visit for an EU summit.
Ordinarily, it costs Brussels about $690,000 to host the summit. But this year, the mayor told the Guardian, “you can multiply that figure by 20.”
Belgium has arranged to provide an additional 350 security personnel to protect Obama as he moves between sites, the Washington Post reported. Further, nine U.S. helicopters and approximately 30 armored cars will be deployed for when the president visits a World War I cemetery.
The Guardian also reported that Obama was traveling with an entourage of 900 people, a figure the White House told the Post was incorrect. The White House declined to provide the actual entourage number, citing security concerns.
Even if true, the supposed entourage head count wouldn’t actually be that unprecedented.
When then-President George W. Bush visited London in 2003 — just months after the invasion of Iraq — he traveled with an entourage that consisted of nearly 700 personnel, according to the Guardian, which the newspaper described at the time as “worthy of a travelling medieval monarch.” The British government spent a little more than $8 million on Bush’s four-day visit.
News of the president’s pricey Belgium trip comes just days after a report claimed that Obama is the most “internationally well-traveled” president through five years who also happens to be “flying the most expensive-to-operate Air Force One to date.”
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