U.S. President Obama pays first state visit to Britain

08:18, May 24, 2011      

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U.S. President Barack Obama accompanied by First Lady Michelle Obama began his three-day state visit to Britain on Monday night.

They arrived in Britain earlier than the scheduled Tuesday morning on worries of possible disruption to air travel caused by the Icelandic ash cloud. The White House press office said their schedule for Tuesday would proceed as planned.

At the invitation of Britain Queen Elizabeth II, the president and his wife will stay at Buckingham Palace during their first state visit to Britain. Last time they were invited to have tea in the palace with the British monarch when visiting London for the G20 summit in April 2009.

According to the schedule released by the British Foreign Office, Obama will hold talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and will address members of both Houses of Parliament at Westminster Hall during his visit.

Observers say it is rare for a foreign head of state to make such an address in Westminster Hall, which is usually reserved for British monarchs.

Earlier on Monday afternoon before Obama's arrival, the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague held talks in London on recent political unrest in countries like Libya, Syria, Sudan and Yemen.

Hague and Clinton underlined the close relationship between the two countries in a joint press conference after their talk. Hague said the two countries stood side by side on issues like the Middle East peace process while Clinton described the U.S. and Britain had "a great working relationship."

Obama and the first lady will leave for France to attend G8 summit early Thursday.

Source: Xinhua
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