Britain and US hope Major visit will heal rifts

BY DONALD MACINTYRE

in London and

RUPERT CORNWELL

in Washington

John Major flew into Washington last night to begin a three-day visit to the US amid fresh heart-searching in London about the future of the Anglo-American relationship, strained by recent disagreements on Northern Ireland and Bosnia.

The Prime Minister, who crossed the Atlantic on Concorde for the first time as Prime Minister, sees President Bill Clinton for what is being billed in advance as a "businesslike" three hours of talks tomorrow.

He also has a crowded programme on Capitol Hill. A highlight will be what ministers hope will prove a politically fruitful first meeting between the Prime Minister and Newt Gingrich, the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Some senior Tories expect Mr Major to seek pointers from the Gingrich- inspired "Contract with America" to inject political freshness into the Conservatives' pre-election agenda.

British officials are making a determined effort to play down the recent row over the grant-ing of a visa to the Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams which allowed him to raise funds on his recent trip to the US.

As well as pointing out that the US administration has promised measures to tighten the auditing of funds so that they cannot be used for re-equipping the IRA, officials say they do not want to pick over the bones of their recent quarrel. "We want to look forward, not back," said one British source.

Anthony Lake, President Clinton's national security adviser, acknowledged at the weekend that anti-Americanism and criticism of Mr Clinton were rife in Britain, but insisted that what he called "tactical differences" on Northern Ireland would not cause long-term damage to relations.

"We see the press articles, I acknowledge it exists and we don't like it," Mr Lake told a group of British correspondents on the eve of Mr Major's visit."We don't like it for two reasons: one, it's nasty; and second, it's wrong.

But, he continued: "It doesn't worry us. I've no doubt this will pass, the relationship is so strong that we'll get right through this and get on with what is important, and that's co-operating extremely closely on the big-ticket security items around the world."

Repeatedly, Mr Lake stressed Washington's support for Britain's efforts to secure a settlement in Ulster, and praised Mr Major for "taking risks for peace". Transatlantic differences were "over tactics, not goals".

He described the fuss in the British media as "transitory and unwarranted," adding with an utterly straight face that Mr Clinton and Mr Major enjoyed "a very, very good personal relationship; they truly do".

In fact, both sides are clearly determined not to let the row over Mr Adams and his fundraising visa wreck the talks. And on the "big ticket security items" - first and foremost Bosnia - London and Washington are in much greater general harmony than when Mr Major was last here a year ago.

On Bosnia, Mr Lake insisted that Mr Clinton would veto any measure from Congress lifting the arms embargo, which Britain has adamantly opposed all along. After some wavering, the administration has come round to the British-French view. Lifting the embargo, Mr Lake said, would cause "the worst crisis in Nato's history since Suez".

Even more important, the White House lobbying effort on Capitol Hill seems to be paying off. Although with the New Year ceasefire fraying, sympathy for the Bosnians will probably again grow, Mr Lake expressed doubts that there was even a majority in the Senate for lifting the embargo, as urged by the majority leader, Senator Bob Dole of Kansas.

Mr Lake also brushed off suggestions that Britain might come under pressure soon to give up some or all of its independent nuclear weapons as the US and Russia gear up for another round of nuclear arms cuts.

The administration was "only at the very beginning of thinking about" a Start-3 treaty, that could cut the old superpowers' rival arsenals to as low as 500 apiece. "The first step is to get Start-2 ratified by the Senate and the [Russian] Duma," he said.

Leading article, page 16

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind-the-scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
News
Winchester College Football (universally known as Winkies) is designed to make athletic skill all but irrelevant
Life...arcane public school games explained
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# Algo-Developer (BDD/TDD, ASP.NET, JavaScript, RX)

£45000 - £69999 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Algo-Develo...

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, Apache Mahout, Python,R,AI)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Data Scientist (SQL,Data mining, data modelling, PHD, AI)

£50000 - £80000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Data Sci...

Java Developer - 1 year contract

£350 - £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone