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Greece: 4,000 police on duty for Schaeuble visit

Riot policemen guard the Greek parliament during a protest in Athens , Wednesday, July 17 2013, as lawmakers voted for thousands of public-sector job cuts and transfers. The vote was the first major political test for Conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras since a left-wing party abandoned his coalition government last month. (AP Photo/Kostas Tsironis)

ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- More than 4,000 police officers were on duty Thursday for a visit to Athens by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, the day after Parliament narrowly agreed to thousands of public-sector job cuts.

Demonstrations have been banned throughout Athens during Schaeuble's visit. The German minister is due to meet conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and other senior Greek officials in his first since trip to Greece the crisis broke out in late 2009.

Police placed parliament and the city's main Syntagma Square off limits to protesters, in security measures that were more extensive than those reserved for heads of government. Busy downtown subway stations were also closed for the day, while traffic restrictions were imposed along the route from Athens International Airport into the capital.

The 70-year-old Schaeuble is widely seen in Greece as an enforcer of the country's harsh austerity measures and has been often singled out for criticism by protesters. The cuts have helped keep Greece in the euro but have seen an alarming rise in poverty and unemployment since the country was first bailed out in 2010 by other eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund.

Left-wing opposition leader Alexis Tsipras accused Samaras of trying to help his fellow conservatives in Germany ahead of the federal election there in September.

"Mr. Samaras is acting like a manager for the (German) Christian Democrat party, as Mr. Schaeuble tours the countryside," Tsipras said in parliament Wednesday.

"He is coming here to support his catastrophic policies."

Parliament late Wednesday narrowly approved new austerity measures demanded by rescue creditors which will mean mass firings and transfers of workers in Greece's bloated public sector that has triggered a new round of large protests.

Greece's two largest unions are not planning protests Thursday but striking municipal workers are expected to hold an afternoon rally.

Tsipras' left-wing Syriza party described the police measures as "fascist and undemocratic" and said its members would join demonstrations if they take place.