Obama and Cameron to stress united effort on Libya

LONDON Tue May 24, 2011 7:29pm EDT

1 of 13. President Barack Obama and Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron (L) enter 10 Downing Street in London May 24, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Kieran Doherty

LONDON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday will stress a united effort to pressure Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to step down, while glossing over differences between their two governments.

Obama and Cameron are to hold joint talks and a midday news conference before Obama delivers a speech at Westminster Hall laying out the main theme of his trip -- that the United States and Europe must play a lead role together in global security.

Libya presents a thorny challenge. After initially leading the air campaign, the United States has assumed a lower profile in the two-month campaign, with Obama trying to avoid another expensive foreign entanglement.

Britain, France and other NATO members have taken the lead but face just as many financial hardships at home as the United States, and there are some suggestions that the allies would like Washington to do more.

That does not appear to be on the horizon, however.

Ben Rhodes, a deputy White House national security adviser, told reporters the United States would not mind if Britain were to send its attack helicopters in support of the Libyan rebels, as London is contemplating.

"There's a lot of ways that the U.S. is contributing diplomatically through support to the opposition and through support to the military effort. And we're satisfied that we'll continue to do so and that that is playing an incredibly important role in the operation," Rhodes said.


Obama is on a week-long, four-nation Europe tour and Wednesday promises to offer the most substance after a light-hearted visit to Ireland and a day in London filled with pomp at Buckingham Palace.

Obama is feeling the tug of home. A massive tornado killed at least 118 people in Missouri. He plans to visit there on Sunday upon his return.

He and Cameron sit down for talks at No. 10 Downing Street that, besides Libya, will cover the allies' effort to wind down the war in Afghanistan and nurture the fledgling attempts at democratic change in North Africa and the Middle East.

Obama's speech at Westminster Hall will give him a chance to outline how Washington views Europe in a crowded diplomatic agenda dominated by challenges from Asia to the Middle East.

"We're confident that Europe can continue to play the role it's played as our principal and fundamental security partner in the world, even as, of course, we have a number of very critical security relationships ranging from obviously our Asian allies to Australia to other countries," said Rhodes.

Wednesday follows a more ceremonial day for the Obamas, who spent Tuesday getting acquainted with Buckingham Palace and enjoying a state dinner put on by Queen Elizabeth II.

At the meal, attended by some 170 guests, Obama and the queen discussed the cultural, military and diplomatic ties that connected the two countries.

Obama goes to Deauville, France, on Thursday for a Group of Eight summit and separate meetings with the leaders of Russia, France and Japan. He ends the trip with a visit to Poland.

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Comments (2)
cocostar wrote:
I’m surprised that the column didn’t mention the world war 2 icon Churchill? Or how he conned us into war and then welshed on his war debt to America laying the foundation for our national debt. And lets not forget the war of 1812 and the world cotton trade into the civil war, or the slave trade which was mostly generated by the Europeans.

I can understand the idea of an Allie but I’m not into the “bully up the street”, or “you bark and I bite mentality”. Europe and Asia have never been stable. And what has the Euro ever done for America? If I could make the point of whatever’s convenient and self promoting! Or a monster national debt for who’s best interest?

I suggest we take a good look at our priorities before considering theirs. And make sure that the collar and the leash of the Bush era are no longer attached to America’s neck.

I’m not declaring the relationship all bad but lets not go around the world making other people’s enemies our enemies too! Common interet or not!

May 24, 2011 5:17pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
W-DS wrote:
Nice way to thank the British war dead there(including the one killed yesterday), coco, who only went to Afghanistan to fight in revenge over 9/11.

Unlike you, and many so called Patriots in America these days, some of us still thank – and hold in high regard – the British for standing alongside us as we fight terrorists.

Unlike many of the so called Patriots who now seem to be nothing but verbally patriotic, some of us actually witnessed with our own eyes the many deaths and injuries the British sustained on Americas behalf, helping us attack those who allowed AQ to use their territory to attack America, and elsewhere.

They joined us in Korea(including indirect contributions via commonwealth countries, when their Queen asked if they’d fight alongside us), were permanently at our side during the Soviet years, and remained there before and after 9/11.

Not to mention the many conflicts over the decades, a couple of which they werent even acknowledged by either their own or our govt/media for fighting alongside us in.

If war is declared tomorrow on any country by the U.S., no matter its proximity/their ability to counter-attack the U.K., you can bet your life on it — Britain will contribute, regardless of the consequences for their country/their people.

The day when Britain says “no” to deploying men in wars WE declare, then we can begin to condemn them.

May 24, 2011 6:54pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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