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'Exceptional' time for Brussels police with Nato summit and World Cup
Belgian police are braced for an exceptionally busy few days - with the arrival of world leaders for a Nato summit in Brussels coinciding with Belgium's World Cup semi-final against France.
A spokesperson for interior minister Jan Jambon said the police deployment would be "exceptional - one of our most complex ever", while police unions have warned they are "not ready for this". Police were already out in force on Saturday when 1,400 demonstrators took part in a "Trump not Welcome" march from Brussels North station.
From Tuesday to Friday, security perimeters will be set up in various parts of Brussels for the Nato summit, including a large perimeter around the new Nato site in Haren and road closures around the European institutions, the American embassy and The Hotel.
Cars parked on the street risk being towed away, bin bags must not be put out and cafes in the area are required to close their terraces. Residents will need to show their ID card to get to their house and employees will need a pass to reach their office.
Brussels mayor Philippe Close told Bel RTL: "This is one of the biggest summits we have ever hosted, representing 55 delegations and 29 heads of state. Our police are preparing for it. Everything has been done to make sure Brussels doesn't become a bunker - that Brussels residents can still go about their daily lives."
Traffic is also expected to be busy because of an SNCB rail strike. Wednesday is also Flemish community day, with a reinforced police presence at the festivities around Place de la Monnaie and the Grand-Place.
And, at 20.00 on Tuesday, Belgium kicks off against France in their World Cup semi-final, having beaten Brazil 2-1 on Friday night. The federal police force has announced 250 reinforcements for the occasion.
A spokeswoman for the Brussels Capital-Ixelles police zone said: "We're getting help from everywhere - there will be local police areas that will come to assist us and there will be a huge effort by the federal police and students from police schools will also support us. For them it will be a new experience."
Donald Trump is due to arrive in Brussels on Wednesday. That evening, Nato leaders will also be attending a gala at the Cinquantenaire museums, meaning the park and surrounding roads will be closed from the afternoon until midnight.
Photo: Saturday's protest in Brussels. Nicolas Maeterlinck/Belga