David Cameron accepts White House invitation


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David Cameron and Barack Obama will hold face-to-face talks on Afghanistan and the global economic crisis when the Prime Minister makes an official visit to the White House next month.

The President will host the Prime Minister and his wife Samantha to "highlight the fundamental importance of the US-UK special relationship".

The two leaders will also debate the situation in the Middle East and Iran's nuclear ambitions during the March 13-14 trip.

The Camerons will attend a state dinner hosted by Mr Obama and First Lady Michelle, with the White House stressing the "strong personal bond" between the leaders and their families.

The visit comes after Downing Street said British troops will step back from their lead combat role in Afghanistan by the end of 2013 under plans drawn up by the Nato-led Isaf international alliance.

US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta has confirmed that American troops will also shift to a support role, although they will remain "combat-ready".

A White House spokesman said: "The visit will highlight the fundamental importance of the US-UK special relationship and the depth of the friendship between the American people and the people of the United Kingdom, as well as the strong personal bond that has developed between the two leaders and their families.

"It will also be an opportunity to recall the valour and sacrifice of the US and British armed forces and their long tradition of standing shoulder to shoulder beside each other in defence of our liberties and shared values.

"The visit will underscore the strength of our economic links, which contribute to millions of jobs on both sides of the Atlantic."

The spokesman added: "The President and the Prime Minister are expected to discuss the upcoming Nato and G8 summits, as well as the broad array of global issues on which the United States and the United Kingdom co-operate closely in order to advance our common values and shared interests, including: Afghanistan, the Middle East, Iran, human rights, and global economic stability and growth.

"They will also review progress in the implementation of the various initiatives launched during the President's state visit to the UK last year."

Downing Street confirmed on Twitter that Mr Cameron and his wife had accepted the invitation to visit the White House.

A message from the official Number10gov account said: "The Prime Minister and Mrs Cameron have accepted invitation from whitehouse for official visit (to) the US on 13th & 14th March."