G20: PM and Obama agree to differ in 'friendly' talks

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The Independent Online

David Cameron and Barack Obama agreed to differ on economic policy last night as Britain claimed international backing for the deep public spending cuts in last week's Budget.

The Prime Minister and the US President held 45 minutes of what Downing Street called "friendly and constructive" talks in a Toronto hotel, their first meeting since Mr Cameron entered No 10.

Mr Obama, worried that the European nations' rush to cut spending might kill economic recovery, said later: "There [have] been differentiated responses.... But we are aiming in the same direction, which is long-term sustainable growth that puts people to work." He praised Mr Cameron for taking "difficult decisions" and said the relationship between the two nations was "built on rock solid foundations".

The two men, who exchanged presents of beer after their friendly bet on the England-USA World Cup match ended in a draw, met ahead of the G20 summit, which is today expected to endorse speeding up deficit-reduction plans while leaving countries such as the US, which is under less pressure, to cut free to continue spending.

Meanwhile, Mr Cameron – invited by Hu Jintao, the Chinese president – is to visit China in November, No 10 confirmed last night. Mr Cameron said: "I attach a great importance to the relationship between Britain and China and it is a relationship I want to oversee myself."

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