Britain's Hague in Washington after EU deal snub
British Foreign Secretary William Hague meets with top US diplomat Hillary Clinton on Monday amid a rift between Britain and its European partners over eurozone debt concerns.
Britain has opted out of an agreement by the other 26 EU states to join a "new fiscal compact," angering much of Europe in the process as it tries to prop up the euro.
Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron said he wielded his veto against a full-blown change of the EU's treaty after other leaders rejected his attempts to secure safeguards for Britain's crucial financial services industry.
Hague, a leading euroskeptic and former Conservative leader, rejected claims that the move meant Britain would be isolated and marginalized from the European Union.
But he also insisted that the Conservative-led coalition, which took power in 2010 with a mission to cut Britain's record deficit with a string of tough austerity measures, was safe for now.
"The Liberal Democrats are very clear as we are that the coalition continues and that's in the vital interest of this country," Hague told Sky News.
Clinton and Hague will also likely discuss Syria's brutal crackdown on dissent that has left over 4,000 people dead, after both Britain and the United States have repeatedly voiced concern over the violence and urged restraint from President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
The two allies have also both taken a tough line on Iran and its controversial nuclear program. Britain closed its embassy in Tehran in November after the British mission was attacked by protesters angry at fresh sanctions.
The US Congress is currently debating fresh sanctions aimed at forcing Iran to freeze what the West charges is a nuclear weapons program.
© 2011 AFP