Prime Minister Gordon Brown will press President Barack Obama for details on his plans to fix the ailing US financial sector in talks today that will focus on the global economic crisis.
The two leaders will also discuss ways to tighten lax financial regulations, a major topic for the summit of the Group of 20 developed and emerging economies that Brown will host in London on April 2.
Invoking President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal policies aimed at lifting the United States out of the Great Depression in the 1930s, Brown has called for a "global New Deal" involving cooperation from major economies to stimulate growth and improve financial regulation.
In keeping with what London calls its special relationship with the United States, Brown will be the first European leader to meet Obama since he took office on January 20.
The visit will include an Oval Office meeting and lunch at the White House. Brown will also deliver a speech tomorrow to the US Congress, where he plans to call on countries to avoid trade protectionism.
The high profile accorded to Brown's visit has not dispelled anxiety in Britain about whether the US-Britain relationship would remain as "special" as ever.
The alliance has a long history but the ties between the leaders were very strong under Obama's and Brown's predecessors, George W. Bush and Tony Blair, who backed Bush's decision to invade Iraq in 2003 and sent troops to join US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Brown and Obama met last July when Obama visited London during a European tour while he was still a Democratic presidential candidate. They chatted and took a stroll during a more than two-hour visit.
Some analysts said Europe in general did not seem to be as big a focus in the first few weeks of the Obama administration as it had been for other US presidents.
Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso was the first foreign leader to visit Obama in the White House. He met with Obama a week ago.
"The signals from the Obama administration about their pecking order seem to be that, in order of priority, Asia and the Middle East come before Europe," said Andrew Bacevich, professor of international relations at Boston University and author of the book, "The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism."
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made Asia the destination of her first trip abroad.
US officials said the friendship with Britain was as important as ever to Washington, given the need for cooperation on important issues such as the economic crisis and the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan.
"I think you'll see on the docket tomorrow a longer discussion about the world economy," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters.
"It's hard to probably pick up a paper here or in England and not deal with many of the same issues. I also expect things like the security situation in Afghanistan and the NATO mission to be part of that, as well," he added.
On the eve of the visit, US stock prices slid to a 12-year low as the latest government bailout for insurer AIG heightened Wall Street's concerns about the extent of the damage to the financial system.
As Obama considers whether to ask Congress for billions more for the financial rescue effort, the meeting will be a chance for him to exchange ideas with Brown, who is grappling with a similarly complex financial crisis at home.
A British official said Brown hoped to get greater clarity from Obama on three subjects: his plans for dealing with the bad assets crippling the banks, his views on creating new oversight of hedge funds and other financial players and his ideas on boosting funding for international institutions like the International Monetary Fund.
Brown hopes Obama, who recently signed a massive $787 billion (557.6 billion pound) fiscal stimulus bill, will help lead calls for other countries to stimulate their economies.
Obama, who last month authorized the deployment of 17,000 more US troops to Afghanistan, where insurgent violence is worsening, hopes to see European countries step up their contributions to the NATO mission there.
A British official said no new pledges of money or commitments were likely to emerge from today's meeting.Reuse content