London, Asharq Al-Awsat- British Prime Minister Gordon Brown will meet with US President Barack Obama in Washington today, thus becoming the first European leader to visit him at the White House and the second international leader after Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso who visited Obama last month.
Brown’s office published on his internet website a report about a “new global agreement” whose effects extend from Africa’s villages to reform of the financial institutions in London and New York. It is recalled that “new agreement” was the name of the campaign by US President Franklin Roosevelt to revive the US economy in the 1930’s. By using this name, Brown is seeking to introduce economic reforms for tackling the economic crisis.
A spokesman for Brown stressed to Asharq Al-Awsat that the economic issues would top the agenda of his talks during his visit to Washington that starts today with a meeting with Obama and includes another meeting with Vice President Joe Biden. The spokesman added that the two leaders would discuss issues of common interest, among them “the situations in the Middle East, Afghanistan, and environmental change.” He stressed however that the economic situation would have priority, especially as Brown is preparing to host the G20 summit in London on 2 April. Though Obama’s participation in the summit, which completes the first meeting of the G20 group on the economic crisis that was held in Washington last November, is almost certain, yet the White House has not officially announced this. London is hoping that Obama will be present at the meeting.
Dan Serembe, a diplomat at the US Embassy in London, said “Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s visit comes at an important time for the two countries and the world, a time when the world is facing the economic crisis, in addition to issues of concern for the two countries internally and the Middle East affairs, Afghanistan, and Europe.” It is recalled that Brown met Obama who visited London during the election campaign, but this will be the first time he meets Brown since he became the President of the United States.
Commenting to Asharq Al-Awsat, Serembe said: “Being the second leader after the Japanese prime minister to visit the US President is a sign of the importance of this relationship and partnership between the two countries on several issues. This special relationship is based on a common history and values in addition to the common challenges facing both countries.”
While the British fear that the strengthening of relations between the United States and France and other countries will affect the “special relationship”, Washington is underlining the importance of this relationship in all statements. It is recalled that British Foreign Secretary David Miliband was the first European foreign minister to meet Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she took office, yet she decided not to come to Britain during her visit to Europe next week. Serembe explained: “The two countries’ special relationship is not the only one they have. If the two countries work closely this does not mean that they do not work with others.”
Brown is expected to address both chambers of Congress, the House of Representatives and the Senate, tomorrow. Addressing the Congress is considered an honor granted to leaders who are close to the United States. Brown will be the fifth British prime minister to address the US legislative assembly and he is expected to underline the importance of the “special relationship.”