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Obama and Cameron Will Keep Pressure on Qaddafi

Wednesday, 25 May 2011 04:23 By Mark Landler, Truthout | Report

London — A day after Queen Elizabeth II welcomed President Obama to Britain with pomp and ceremony, Prime Minister David Cameron and the American leader on Wednesday expressed agreement on the current strategy in Libya at a press conference on the final day of Mr. Obama’s state visit.

As the NATO-led coalition intensifies airstrikes in Libya, Mr. Cameron said, “We should be turning up the heat” against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi and “he must go.”

Mr. Obama said that although the two had agreed to rule out “boots on the ground,” they would “continue Libya operations until Qaddafi’s attacks on the people cease.” The Libya leader “must leave office,” Mr. Obama said, and needs to understand “that there won’t be a let-up in the pressure.”

On the uprisings that have shaken the Arab world this spring, Mr. Obama said, “We are both committed to do everything we can to support people who reach for democracy and leaders who support democratic reform,” adding: “We will strongly oppose use of violence against protesters.”

Mr. Obama also spoke of a year of change in Afghanistan, as “we are in a position now to start a transition to an Afghan-led security process,” and said he and Mr. Cameron had agreed on the need to “push for a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians.”

Later on Wednesday, the president will address Parliament.

Speaking Wednesday afternoon at Lancaster House, near Buckingham Palace, both leaders praised the British-American relationship, with Mr. Cameron saying it was “a living partnership. It is essential to our security and it is essential to our prosperity.”

Mr. Obama thanked the queen and the British people for showing “genuine affection and warmth” during his visit.

The queen’s welcome on Tuesday, with the Scots Guards’ band playing “The Star-Spangled Banner” and the firing of a 41-gun cannon salute that resounded across the gardens of Buckingham Palace, began a two-day visit by the president, rich in pageantry but shadowed by concerns over the Libyan stalemate, the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and deepening tensions between Israelis and Palestinians.

American and British officials played down any differences, though analysts said Britain was frustrated by the Obama administration’s refusal to expand its military engagement in Libya. American officials have expressed fears that cuts in military spending could hobble Britain’s ability to support the United States in foreign conflicts.

On Tuesday, though, policy took a back seat to ruffles and flourishes. The queen and Mr. Obama walked onto the west terrace of the palace just after 12:30, under a bright sky with a brisk wind that ruffled the bearskin hats of the Scots Guardsmen.

After the American national anthem was played, Mr. Obama reviewed the honor guard with Prince Philip. The queen and the first lady, Michelle Obama, watched from the terrace, putting their heads together to chat like old friends.

In a rare gesture, the queen invited the Obamas to stay at Buckingham Palace. A palace aide said she gave them a tour of their six-room suite, used by Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge on the night of their wedding. “It may not be the same bed; it is the same suite,” said the aide, who, by custom, asked not to be identified by name.

Mr. and Mrs. Obama met with the newlyweds, giving them a wedding present of six donated MacBook notebook computers to a Northern Ireland charity supported by Prince William.

Mr. Obama’s state visit — only the second for a president since the queen took the throne (George W. Bush made one in 2003) — is meant to underline Britain’s “special relationship” with the United States, even if that phrase has sometimes suggested more warmth and solidarity than actually exists between two strong-minded allies.

Mr. Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron prefer to call it an “essential relationship,” a phrase road-tested in a joint op-ed article published Tuesday in The Times of London. Shared national interests, they wrote, unite the United States and Britain.

“We can honestly say that despite being two leaders from two different political traditions, we see eye to eye,” Mr. Obama and Mr. Cameron wrote. “We look at the world in a similar way, share the same concerns and see the same strategic possibilities.”

Some British commentators argue that Mr. Obama, the community organizer from Chicago, and Mr. Cameron, the conservative leader from a privileged background, have little natural affinity. Yet officials on both sides say the two men get along well.

Speaking with American reporters on Monday, Mr. Cameron insisted there were no substantive disagreements between him and Mr. Obama on Libya, the Middle East or Afghanistan.

Yet experts said the British had been dismayed at what they saw as America’s reluctance to commit itself fully to toppling Libya’s leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. Some feel the United States mishandled its decision to withdraw planes from front-line missions early last month.

“The British are disappointed that the U.S. seems only to be half-committed to this battle,” said Charles Grant, director of the Center for European Reform in London. “The view goes that even if the U.S. felt it had to make withdrawals, to say so in public would allow Qaddafi to relax and think that the U.S. didn’t really want to get rid of him.”

Britain has also parted company with the United States on Palestinian statehood, telling Israel that it might support a Palestinian declaration of independence if there were no credible peace talks. The United States opposes any unilateral declaration.

Mr. Obama hopes to persuade Mr. Cameron not to take that path, casting his latest proposal for breaking the impasse in peace talks as a viable alternative. Mr. Obama has formally endorsed Israel’s pre-1967 borders, adjusted to account for Jewish settlements in the West Bank, as the starting point for negotiations over the contours of a Palestinian state.

“All that is part of investing in a credible alternative to efforts that we don’t believe will resolve the conflict,” said Benjamin J. Rhodes, the president’s deputy national security adviser.

Sarah Lyall contributed reporting from London and David Jolly contributed from Paris.


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Obama and Cameron Will Keep Pressure on Qaddafi

Wednesday, 25 May 2011 04:23 By Mark Landler, Truthout | Report

London — A day after Queen Elizabeth II welcomed President Obama to Britain with pomp and ceremony, Prime Minister David Cameron and the American leader on Wednesday expressed agreement on the current strategy in Libya at a press conference on the final day of Mr. Obama’s state visit.

As the NATO-led coalition intensifies airstrikes in Libya, Mr. Cameron said, “We should be turning up the heat” against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi and “he must go.”

Mr. Obama said that although the two had agreed to rule out “boots on the ground,” they would “continue Libya operations until Qaddafi’s attacks on the people cease.” The Libya leader “must leave office,” Mr. Obama said, and needs to understand “that there won’t be a let-up in the pressure.”

On the uprisings that have shaken the Arab world this spring, Mr. Obama said, “We are both committed to do everything we can to support people who reach for democracy and leaders who support democratic reform,” adding: “We will strongly oppose use of violence against protesters.”

Mr. Obama also spoke of a year of change in Afghanistan, as “we are in a position now to start a transition to an Afghan-led security process,” and said he and Mr. Cameron had agreed on the need to “push for a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians.”

Later on Wednesday, the president will address Parliament.

Speaking Wednesday afternoon at Lancaster House, near Buckingham Palace, both leaders praised the British-American relationship, with Mr. Cameron saying it was “a living partnership. It is essential to our security and it is essential to our prosperity.”

Mr. Obama thanked the queen and the British people for showing “genuine affection and warmth” during his visit.

The queen’s welcome on Tuesday, with the Scots Guards’ band playing “The Star-Spangled Banner” and the firing of a 41-gun cannon salute that resounded across the gardens of Buckingham Palace, began a two-day visit by the president, rich in pageantry but shadowed by concerns over the Libyan stalemate, the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and deepening tensions between Israelis and Palestinians.

American and British officials played down any differences, though analysts said Britain was frustrated by the Obama administration’s refusal to expand its military engagement in Libya. American officials have expressed fears that cuts in military spending could hobble Britain’s ability to support the United States in foreign conflicts.

On Tuesday, though, policy took a back seat to ruffles and flourishes. The queen and Mr. Obama walked onto the west terrace of the palace just after 12:30, under a bright sky with a brisk wind that ruffled the bearskin hats of the Scots Guardsmen.

After the American national anthem was played, Mr. Obama reviewed the honor guard with Prince Philip. The queen and the first lady, Michelle Obama, watched from the terrace, putting their heads together to chat like old friends.

In a rare gesture, the queen invited the Obamas to stay at Buckingham Palace. A palace aide said she gave them a tour of their six-room suite, used by Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge on the night of their wedding. “It may not be the same bed; it is the same suite,” said the aide, who, by custom, asked not to be identified by name.

Mr. and Mrs. Obama met with the newlyweds, giving them a wedding present of six donated MacBook notebook computers to a Northern Ireland charity supported by Prince William.

Mr. Obama’s state visit — only the second for a president since the queen took the throne (George W. Bush made one in 2003) — is meant to underline Britain’s “special relationship” with the United States, even if that phrase has sometimes suggested more warmth and solidarity than actually exists between two strong-minded allies.

Mr. Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron prefer to call it an “essential relationship,” a phrase road-tested in a joint op-ed article published Tuesday in The Times of London. Shared national interests, they wrote, unite the United States and Britain.

“We can honestly say that despite being two leaders from two different political traditions, we see eye to eye,” Mr. Obama and Mr. Cameron wrote. “We look at the world in a similar way, share the same concerns and see the same strategic possibilities.”

Some British commentators argue that Mr. Obama, the community organizer from Chicago, and Mr. Cameron, the conservative leader from a privileged background, have little natural affinity. Yet officials on both sides say the two men get along well.

Speaking with American reporters on Monday, Mr. Cameron insisted there were no substantive disagreements between him and Mr. Obama on Libya, the Middle East or Afghanistan.

Yet experts said the British had been dismayed at what they saw as America’s reluctance to commit itself fully to toppling Libya’s leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. Some feel the United States mishandled its decision to withdraw planes from front-line missions early last month.

“The British are disappointed that the U.S. seems only to be half-committed to this battle,” said Charles Grant, director of the Center for European Reform in London. “The view goes that even if the U.S. felt it had to make withdrawals, to say so in public would allow Qaddafi to relax and think that the U.S. didn’t really want to get rid of him.”

Britain has also parted company with the United States on Palestinian statehood, telling Israel that it might support a Palestinian declaration of independence if there were no credible peace talks. The United States opposes any unilateral declaration.

Mr. Obama hopes to persuade Mr. Cameron not to take that path, casting his latest proposal for breaking the impasse in peace talks as a viable alternative. Mr. Obama has formally endorsed Israel’s pre-1967 borders, adjusted to account for Jewish settlements in the West Bank, as the starting point for negotiations over the contours of a Palestinian state.

“All that is part of investing in a credible alternative to efforts that we don’t believe will resolve the conflict,” said Benjamin J. Rhodes, the president’s deputy national security adviser.

Sarah Lyall contributed reporting from London and David Jolly contributed from Paris.


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