* Special relationship revived anew
* Avoid public disagreements
* Paper over differences
By Steve Holland
WASHINGTON, July 20 They shared opinions on beers from their hometowns, called each other by their first names and discussed the clutter in their children's bedrooms.
U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron got off to a warm start at Cameron's first White House visit on Tuesday and did not let tensions over the BP Plc (BP.L) (BP.N) Gulf of Mexico oil spill overshadow their talks.
* The two leaders, both telegenic and displaying a youthful vigor, stated early and often that the U.S.-British "special relationship" was alive and well and revived anew.
That amounted to a rejection of the view voiced by some experts that Obama's Democratic administration and Cameron's Conservative government, which took office in May, are bound to have differences over economic and foreign policy.
Obama, 48, called it "a truly special relationship," and Cameron, 43, said it was not only a special relationship but an "absolutely essential relationship" needed to renew economic prosperity.
* The two leaders avoided a public disagreement over the British government's release last year of a Libyan man convicted in the bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988.
Each man found a mutual culprit to blame for releasing the bomber -- the Labor Party government of Gordon Brown, who preceded Cameron as prime minister.
Cameron promised to help a U.S. Senate probe but saw no need for a British inquiry into questions on whether BP had pressed for the release of Abdel Basset al-Megrahi. Obama did not press him on the issue.
* Each leader has pursued a different strategy toward renewing economic growth in his country -- Obama has used stimulus spending, while Cameron has employed austerity measures that would be popular with American Republicans.
In line with the mood of unity the two leaders expressed, they said they hoped to end up in the same spot.
Obama said his $862 billion stimulus plan had been needed to fill a "huge drop-off in demand" and get the economy growing again. But he signaled the possibility of some form of austerity.
"We're still going to have to go back and deal with these long-term structural deficits," he said.
Cameron said, "Our destination is a strong and stable growth, a sustained economic recovery."
* Obama has seemingly shied away from developing warm personal ties with other world leaders but he did seem eager to show his public respect for "David" as Cameron did for "Barack."
At the outset, Obama discussed the beers they swapped from their home cities at last month's Group of 20 summit in Canada -- "I thought the beer was excellent but I drank it cold."
Cameron returned the compliment, saying he was going to need to speak to his children about their bedrooms after seeing how tidy were the White House bedrooms of Obama's daughters, Sasha and Malia. (Additional reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Patricia Wilson and Peter Cooney)