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Obama Administration Praises ‘special Relationship’ Between US and UK Ahead of PM David Cameron’s Visit

Posted on the 12 March 2012 by Periscope @periscopepost
Obama administration praises ‘special relationship’ between US and UK ahead of PM David Cameron’s visit

President Barack Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron. Photo credit: Crown copyright

UK Prime Minister is heading to Washington to meet US President Barack Obama for a visit that will include a flight on Air Force One, a basketball game and a star-studded dinner. The PM’s wife, Samantha Cameron, is due to co-host a children’s ‘mini-Olympics’ with Michelle Obama.

But the trip won’t be all fun and games: talks between Obama and Cameron on the future of military engagement in Afghanistan have taken on a new urgency after a US soldier shot dead 16 civilians on Sunday.

The Obama administration is displaying considerable enthusiasm for the traditional “special relationship” between Britain and the US ahead of Cameron’s visit, with White House spokesmen mentioning the phrase several times. But is this really a special relationship or more of a marriage of convenience?

Back on track. Britain’s relationship with American went through a rocky patch under the Labour government, wrote Robert Winnett in The Telegraph: “Three years ago, Gordon Brown was left skulking around outside a United Nations kitchen for a conversation with Obama at an international summit.” But now the two countries have fallen in love all over again, with Obama talking of a “close personal bond” with the UK prime minister. According to Winnett, this new closeness is partly due to US frustration with the reaction of Eurozone leaders to the debt crisis and also to the warm reception the Obamas received on their state visit to Britain in 2011.

One-sided relationship? Cameron has a duty to discuss “seemingly skewed” US/UK extradition laws with Obama, argued Peter McKay in The Daily Mail, in light of headline-making cases such as businessman Christopher Tappin, who was sent to a Texas prison on suspicion of arms dealing. “Can any fair-minded person be happy with a system in which UK citizens sought by U.S. prosecutors are taken there without any judge in this country reviewing the evidence?” asked McKay, describing UK political leaders as “US lapdogs”.

Exclusive relationship? Many media outlets have pointed out that Cameron isn’t due to meet the Republican presidential candidates, and that this omission from the PM’s schedule may be significant. According to The Week, Cameron may well prefer Democrat Obama to the GOP field, and this could simply be because “as a relatively liberal Conservative, the prospect of embracing Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich is enough to make [Cameron] reach for the smelling salts”. And Obama will be keen to use the visit “to show Republicans that he is keeping America’s truest and oldest friend close, and has not sacrificed the “special relationship” in his attempts to woo the Mullahs in Iran or the KGB hardman in Russia, Vladimir Putin”.

When is a state visit not a state visit? The Camerons will not, strictly speaking, be making a “state visit’, pointed out The Washington Post, because the Queen is in fact the head of state: “So what Cameron, as head of government, and his stylish wife Samantha are coming for is technically called an ‘official visit,’ complete with red carpet and a formal banquet that will certainly taste like a state dinner — but only a mere 19-gun salute.”

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