U.S., British leaders meet over bilateral, global issues (2)
09:34, July 31, 2007
| Brown, accompanied by Foreign Secretary David Miliband, flew in here late Sunday and then headed straight to Bush''s Camp David, Maryland retreat, for a private dinner and brief meeting, U.S. officials said.
The two leaders focused on thorny issues, ranging from terror threats, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Iran''s nuclear crisis, the status of the breakaway Serbian province of Kosovo, and the conflicts in Darfur, Sudan.
This is Brown''s first visit to the United States since he became British prime minister after his predecessor Tony Blair stepped down late last month.
Blair has close relationship with Bush. His departure after 10- year at the helm was believed to be a result of increasing public opposition to his support for the U.S.-led war in Iraq.
Britain currently has some 5,500 troops in southern Iraq. British Defense Secretary Des Browne said earlier this month that Britain would trim its military presence in the region to 5,000 within weeks and then consider how best to remove the rest of the contingent.
The change of Britain''s leadership and the reported plan about Britain''s withdrawal from Iraq have prompted people to find out how Brown will treat the future relations between London and Washington.
Upon his arrival, Brown said he would use the visit to strengthen Britain-U.S. relations. He denied speculation that Britain''s relationship with the United States was cooling.
"It is firmly in the British national interest that we have a strong relationship with the United States, our single most important bilateral relationship," he said in a statement.
"Because of the values we share, the relationship with the United States is not only strong, but can become stronger in the years ahead."
Miliband, also stressed in a recent published commentary that the United States remains Britain''s strongest ally despite the change of leadership in his country.
"With a new Brown government, some people are looking for evidence that our alliance is breaking up," the foreign secretary wrote in the News of the World." There isn''t any and there won''t be any."
"Nothing has changed. Our strongest bilateral relationship is with the U.S.A," he said.
Gordon Johndroe, spokesman for the National Security Council at the White House, said the change of Britain''s relationship will have no effect on the alliance between Washington and London.
"Specific relationships between any two people are always going to be different," Johndroe said.
"I think comparisons are sort of silly. The relationship between the two countries is so strong that I think all the discussion about the very specifics of the personal relationships is not terribly relevant."