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Merkel visits Portugal amid growing protests


10:38, November 13, 2012

LISBON, Nov. 12 (Xinhua) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in Lisbon midday Monday amid widespread anti-austerity protests across the capital.

The German chancellor is in Lisbon for an official visit lasting only five hours which includes meetings with Portuguese president, prime minister and foreign minister as well as economists and businessmen from both countries.

Merkel's first stop was for a half hour meeting with Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva at his Belem Palace official residence, where a few dozen protesters were heavily outnumbered by police.

The protesters, many wearing black to signify national mourning, are angry at tax hikes and cuts in pay and pensions as Portugal attempts to lower its budget deficit to 3 percent of GDP by 2014, following a 78-billion-euro bailout package from creditors comprising the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund commonly known as the Troika.

One protester identified as Joao Silva told Xinhua that he is here to protest against austerity policies that are hammering Portuguese citizens. "I feel angry when I think about how much money will be spent on this visit when so many people have nothing," he said, adding "today the people are here protesting, tomorrow we do not know what we'll be doing, especially young people."

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