PM insists 'no snub' as Obama spurns one-to-one

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The Independent US

Gordon Brown will not have a formal one-to-one meeting with President Barack Obama during his four-day visit to the United States that starts today.

British officials denied that the Prime Minister was being "snubbed" as a result of American anger over the release of the Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi.

Aides said that Mr Brown would sit next to Mr Obama at several meetings during this week and so would have plenty of time for informal talks with the President.

Normally, a British prime minister would be accorded a bilateral meeting with the president during a US trip. But Mr Obama is hosting a hectic round of meetings of the United Nations and G20, and has scheduled only three formal one-to-one sessions – those are with the leaders of China, Russia and Japan. British officials pointed out that the President was not due to hold talks with the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, or the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, either.

The Obama administration strongly opposed Megrahi's release, but British ministers have played down reports of a transatlantic rift, saying that the US had backed moves to bring Libya in from the diplomatic cold – and wanted access to its oil reserves.