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Obama Wraps Up Foreign Tour in London


Barack Obama, the presumed Democratic presidential candidate, held talks with British leaders in London on Saturday as he wound up a foreign tour that took him to Afghanistan, Iraq, other parts of the the Middle East and Europe. VOA's Sonja Pace reports from the British capital.

Barack Obama met with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown for nearly two hours at number 10 Downing Street and then stepped outside to talk to the press, about what he said had been a "terrific conversation."

"The prime minister's emphasis, like mine, is how we can strengthen the trans-Atlantic relationship, solve problems that can't be solved by any single country individually, climate change, the issue of international terrorism, some of the issues surrounding financial markets," he said.

He also thanked Britain for its contribution in Afghanistan.

"I know the troops here in Great Britain have borne a heavy price for wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan and I think the American people are grateful," said Obama.

The presidential hopeful is on the final part of the European leg of his world tour that has taken him to Afghanistan, Iraq, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian Territories, Germany, France and now Britain.

The low-key tone of this stop was in sharp contrast to the visit in Berlin where the Illinois senator addressed a crowd of over 200,000 enthusiastic Germans.

"People of the world, look at Berlin where a wall came down, a continent came together and history proved that there is no challenge too great for a world that stands as one," said the Democratic presidential candidate.

The high profile nature of Obama's world tour has led some pundits to question the appropriateness of the candidate being given what amounts to a presidential welcome. After the huge turnout in Berlin on Thursday, Obama stood side by side with Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris in the kind of photo op normally reserved for a head of state.

Analysts put the low-key nature of the London visit down to the British government's desire not to show favoritism to either of the two U.S. presidential candidates.

In London, Obama was asked whether his foreign tour might not hurt him politically back home where people are more concerned about domestic issues. He said he would not be surprised if his opinion poll ratings dropped somewhat since he's been out of the country. But, he said, the visit was an important one.

"I am convinced that many of the issues that we face at home are not going to be solved as effectively unless we have strong partners abroad and unless we get a handle on Iraq and Afghanistan not only are we going to be less safe, but it's also going to be a huge drain of resources," said Obama.

On this final stop, Obama also had private talks with former British prime minister Tony Blair and had talks scheduled with David Cameron, leader of the opposition Conservative party.


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