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Spain's capital ramps up security to host Nato summit

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AFP/The Local - [email protected]
Spain's capital ramps up security to host Nato summit
To avoid gridlock in the city of over three million, local authorities strongly recommended that people work from home if possible.(Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)

Madrid was turned into a high-security zone on Tuesday, with thousands of police guarding venues where over 40 world leaders will gather for a Nato summit focused on Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

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Dubbed "Eirene", after the ancient Greek Goddess of peace, the operation involves the biggest deployment of security forces in "Spain's recent history", according to the government.

A total of 10,000 agents backed by sniffer dogs and helicopters have been deployed to provide security for the 5,000 delegates attending the three-day summit, which gets underway on Tuesday evening.

Spanish Defence Minister Margarita Robles said fighter jets and anti-aircraft artillery devices had also been placed on high alert to protect Spanish airspace.

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US President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson are among the leaders expected at the gathering of Nato members and a dozen specially invited nations.

READ ALSO: Sánchez and Spanish King to meet with Biden before Madrid Nato summit

"Madrid and Spain will be the centre of the world," Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares told private television Antena 3.

On Tuesday, police on foot and on horseback patrolled the streets of Madrid, which were monitored by police helicopters and drones.

The tightest security was around the IFEMA conference centre in the northeast of the capital, where the summit will take place.

Roads leading to the conference centre were cut off and the nearest metro stations was closed.

Access to the hotels where delegations are staying was also restricted.

To avoid gridlock in the city of over three million, local authorities strongly recommended that people work from home if possible.

Madrid's Prado museum, which will host a gala dinner on Wednesday evening, will be closed to the public for two days.

The capital's imposing central square, the Plaza Mayor, will be closed from Tuesday afternoon and used as parking space for the delegate's vehicles.

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