Syria, Afghanistan, Iran on Agenda for Obama-Cameron Talks

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron (R) speaks during a joint news conference with U.S. President Barack Obama at Lancaster House, in central London, May 25, 2011
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron (R) speaks during a joint news conference with U.S. President Barack Obama at Lancaster House, in central London, May 25, 2011

U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron are scheduled to hold extensive talks at the White House on Wednesday, focusing on Afghanistan, efforts to end the violence in Syria, Iran's nuclear program and the world economy.  

Prime Minister Cameron last visited the White House in 2010.  In a joint article published on Tuesday in The Washington Post newspaper, Mr. Obama and Mr. Cameron outlined some of the issues they will discuss.

The two men called the alliance between Britain and the United States one the world counts on.  They listed cooperation on Afghanistan, pressure on Iran, the government violence in Syria and the global economic recovery.

Britain is a key partner in the NATO force in Afghanistan.  And the two leaders said they will discuss shifting the alliance's mission to "a support role" in advance of Afghans taking responsibility for their security in 2014 and ensuring that NATO maintains an enduring commitment to Afghanistan to prevent it from again becoming a haven for al-Qaida.

President Obama spoke about Afghanistan and his talks with Mr. Cameron on Tuesday as he vowed to ensure a full investigation and accountability for the recent killing of 16 Afghan civilians, allegedly by a U.S. Army sergeant. "Today, I will be meeting with Prime Minister Cameron, who is part of our broad coalition in Afghanistan.  And we will have an opportunity to consult about the way forward as we prepare for the NATO summit in Chicago later this spring," he said.

President Obama hosts the NATO talks in May, shortly after the G8 summit at Camp David, Maryland.

In their Washington Post article, Mr. Obama and Mr. Cameron pledged to continue working to "tighten the noose" around Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and to work with United Nations-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan to plan for a transition in Syria, following Mr. Assad's departure from office.

Other topics in the Obama-Cameron talks are expected to include coordination on the global economic recovery and steps by European nations to resolve their debt crisis.

Mr. Obama honored the prime minister Tuesday with a flight on Air Force One to Dayton, Ohio to watch a men's college basketball playoff game.

Mr. Obama's spokesman, Jay Carney, responded this way when asked by a reporter whether President Obama is sensitive to suggestions that he has "shrugged off" America's "special relationship" with Britain. "No, I think the fact that we are hosting the prime minister in the manner that we are demonstrates the nature of the relationship between our two countries, the fact that it is a special relationship," he said.

Prime Minister Cameron technically is not Britain's head of state.  That title belongs to Queen Elizabeth.  Nonetheless, Mr. Cameron will receive a full ceremonial welcome.  

Current and former U.S. and British officials and leaders, and sports and entertainment figures, are scheduled to attend a formal banquet at the Executive Mansion on Wednesday.

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