David Cameron given red-carpet welcome in US

 

David Cameron was given a red-carpet welcome as he arrived in the US today for talks with President Barack Obama which are expected to focus on the timetable for withdrawal of international troops from Afghanistan.

A guard of honour greeted the Prime Minister and his wife Samantha as they touched down at Andrews Air Force Base, near Washington, to the sound of a military band playing the national anthems of both countries.

Central to Mr Cameron's three-day visit are top-level discussions on the timing of the handover of lead security responsibilities in Afghanistan to home-grown forces during the course of 2013, allowing the vast bulk of British and American troops to return home by the end of 2014.

But it is also being seen as an opportunity to build on what the two leaders have termed the "essential relationship" between the UK and the US.

And the first item on Mr Cameron's schedule is an introduction to the President's favourite sport of basketball, with a visit to a university game in Ohio.

After meeting Mr Obama in the White House this evening, Mr Cameron will join the President on Air Force One to fly to the University of Dayton, where they will watch the first match of the popular College March Madness tournament, which is televised to big audiences across the US.

Mr and Mrs Cameron were greeted at Andrews by the US chief of protocol Ambassador Capricia Marshall, as well as the UK ambassador in Washington Sir Peter Westmacott, the American ambassador to London Louis Susman and a welcoming party of senior officials from the US National Security Council and State Department.

They were travelling to Blair House, the official US state guest house in Washington, to be greeted by assistant chief of protocol Randy Bumgardner.

After the Prime Minister leaves for the White House, Mrs Cameron was joining first lady Michelle Obama to visit Washington's American University, where they will talk to children who have been taking part in a mini-Olympics event. They will later say hello to girls from Elizabeth Garrett school in north London who first met Mrs Obama during her trip to the UK in 2009 and have been invited over by the first lady for a return visit.

Mr Cameron and Mr Obama used a joint article in today's Washington Post to vow to maintain the trans-Atlantic special relationship which has endured since Churchill and Eisenhower were allies in the Second World War.

In the wake of the recent deaths of six British soldiers and the massacre of 16 Afghan civilians by a renegade US serviceman, they acknowledged that Nato-led operations in Afghanistan remain "a difficult mission".

But both men indicated they would not be knocked off course or pushed into a precipitate exit from Afghanistan, saying: "We honour the profound sacrifices of our forces and in their name we'll carry on the mission."

Their talks at the White House tomorrow will focus on the question of when home-grown Afghan forces will be ready to take over lead responsibility for security in the whole of the country, as they already have done in some provinces.

They will set the scene for the Nato summit in Chicago in May, when a date for transition to lead Afghan control is expected to be announced. Nato agreed at an earlier summit in 2010 that transition should come before the end of 2013, but there was speculation today that the date may be brought forward to the summer of next year.

International troops would remain in support roles - including combat support - until the end of 2014, but the move to an Afghan lead would pave the way for British and American troops to start coming home in large numbers. At present, some 33,000 US personnel and 500 Britons are due to be withdrawn over the course of 2012 and no announcements of further drawdowns are expected this year.

Mr Cameron wants to use this week's talks to ensure that the US and UK are "in lockstep" over the handling of the sensitive conclusion to an operation which will have lasted 13 years by the time the last international troops are pulled out.

The two leaders said in today's article they were "proud of the progress our troops have made in dismantling al Qaida, breaking the Taliban's momentum and training Afghan forces".

They added: "Our troops and citizens have long shown what can be achieved when British and Americans work together, hand and heart, and why this remains an essential relationship - to our nations and to the world.

"So, like generations before us, we're going to keep it up. Because with confidence in our cause and faith in each other, we still believe that there is hardly anything we cannot do."

The unrest in Syria, Iran's nuclear ambitions and the fragile world economy will also be on the agenda for tomorrow's meeting, which will be followed by a star-studded state dinner at the White House.

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls said: "If David Cameron and George Osborne are going to spend the week before the Budget in America, they should use the trip to ask President Obama for some economic advice.

"While Britain's economy has stalled and unemployment has reached a 17-year high, the US economy is strengthening and the jobless rate has come down to a three-year low.

"The US government's more balanced and steady approach to deficit reduction up to now means they have more than recovered all the output lost in the global recession, while in Britain we are still almost 4% below our pre-crisis peak."

PA

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Sport
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
i100
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
News
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
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

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam