Securing Against Protests in Denmark

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) - Thousands of people were preparing to stage rallies Tuesday across Denmark to protest a brief visit by U.S. President George W. Bush.

More than 2,000 police officers were deployed to block off streets and keep an eye on demonstrators in one of the biggest security operations the Scandinavian country has ever seen.

Protests were planned in and outside the capital, Copenhagen, and in the northwestern city of Aarhus ahead of Bush's scheduled arrival Tuesday evening.

The president is set to hold talks with Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen before heading to the G8 summit in Scotland.

The visit is seen as a nod to the Danish government which is a staunch U.S. supporter and has about 500 troops in Iraq.

Protesters also have planned a peaceful torch vigil outside the Fredensborg Palace where Bush will stay, organizers said.

The palace north of Copenhagen is usually open to the public, but because of the Bush visit, scores of police officers have set up concrete road blocks and barbed wire, turning the castle, built in 1722, into a fortress.

Police will keep close watch on a rally late Tuesday by anti-capitalist activists who in flyers urged demonstrators to "come angry," police spokesman Flemming Steen Munch said.

On Tuesday morning, police and bomb experts briefly examined two suspicious packages at the U.S. Embassy in Copenhagen, but determined they were harmless.

On Wednesday, several anti-Bush rallies are expected to converge outside the U.S. Embassy and organizers expect to gather about 20,000 people.

Police have sealed manholes and set up barbed wire around Marienborg, the Danish prime minister's official summer residence, located north of Copenhagen, where he will host Bush on Wednesday.

Some main roads in the area will be closed during the visit, forcing commuters to use public transport.

The airspace over Copenhagen as well as the southern part of neighboring Sweden will be closed off for private flights during Bush's visit. Commercial flights won't be affected.

Secret Service and White House aides have set up their headquarters in a Copenhagen hotel which is tightly guarded by Danish police.