Obama visit 'to reaffirm alliance'

Click to follow
Indy Politics

US President Barack Obama's state visit to the UK next week will reaffirm the importance of the "special relationship" between the two countries, the White House said today.

Mr Obama will be hosted by the Queen for the two-day visit, starting on Tuesday, and has been granted the rare honour of addressing both Houses of Parliament in the historic Westminster Hall on Wednesday.

A senior Obama administration official today said that America had "no closer ally" in the world than the UK, and paid tribute to Britain's close co-operation with Washington on security issues from Iraq to Afghanistan and Libya.

As well as bilateral talks at 10 Downing Street, the President and Prime Minister David Cameron will attend an event hosted by their wives to honour military families from the US and UK, said the White House.

"The US and UK of course enjoy a special relationship," deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters in a conference call.

"There is no closer ally for the US in the world than the UK and we are co-ordinating with them and closely aligned with them on issues ranging from our efforts on Afghanistan, our counter-terrorism efforts, our ongoing efforts in Libya, our G20 agenda and our non-proliferation activities, to name a few.

"We are in absolute alignment with the British on a range of core international security interests and, of course, our deeply shared set of values that have tied us together for many decades."

High on the agenda for Mr Obama's talks with Mr Cameron will be Afghanistan, Libya, Iran and the developing situation in North Africa and the Middle East, where the so-called Arab Spring has seen popular demands for democracy.

The two leaders will discuss Mr Obama's call in a high-profile speech yesterday for a settlement in the Middle East with Israeli and Palestinian states based on 1967 borders.

And they will discuss their joint counter-terrorism efforts in the wake of the successful US mission to locate and kill al Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

Mr Rhodes said that Britain had made "enormous sacrifices" alongside the US in Iraq and Afghanistan. Wednesday's event hosted by Samantha Cameron and Michelle Obama would provide an opportunity "to honour that sacrifice and discuss ways in which both our countries can support military families".

Mr Obama will use his Westminster Hall speech to discuss "the alliance between the US and UK and the values and interests that alliance is rooted in, as well as the broader transatlantic alliance and the imperative for the US and UK to strengthen our relations around the world".

The state visit forms part of a six-day European trip, which will see Mr Obama travel to Ireland, France and Poland and offer a "very important" opportunity for him to "reaffirm our core alliances in the world", said Mr Rhodes.

"It is an opportunity to co-ordinate and align our approaches on a number of issues. Just about everything we are doing in the world we are collaborating closely with our European allies.

"It is an important opportunity to underscore the ties between the US and Europe that are grounded in interests and values but also large populations that live in the US and have heritage in a number of the countries the President is visiting."

The President is also due to speak to Labour leader Ed Miliband on Tuesday.