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British leader to visit Obama in March

Published on 23/02/2009

Washington — British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is to visit US President Barack Obama on March 3, in his first visit to Washington since Obama took office, the White House said Saturday.

The pair "will discuss a range of issues, including the global financial crisis, the April economic summit in London, a comprehensive strategy in Afghanistan and the upcoming 60th anniversary NATO summit in Strasbourg-Kehl," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said in a statement.

"The United States and the United Kingdom share a special partnership, and the President looks forward to working closely with the Prime Minister to address common global challenges."

On Tuesday, Obama is to host Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso, the first foreign leader to visit the White House since Obama’s inauguration last month. Obama made his first foreign trip as president when he visited Canada Thursday.

Both Britain and the United States are battling the impact of the global economic crisis. Obama has signed into law a 787-billion-dollar economic stimulus package and unveiled a 275-billion-dollar housing rescue plan aimed at staving off foreclosures at the heart of the crisis.

"We are going to see unprecedented global cooperation over the next few months," in the lead up to the Group of 20 meeting of industrialized and developing nations on April 2 in London, Brown said Thursday.

The G20 finance ministers and central bank governors are to meet on March 14 in Britain, which is this year’s head of the group of developed and developing countries that includes Brazil, India, China and Russia.

Brown said the leaders’ summit would aim to strike "a global bargain … where each continent will make its contribution to the recovery of the world economy.

He warned that the new bargain "must include new arrangements for global financial regulation, but recognize that national supervisors are insufficient in a world where there are global capital flows."

Obama has launched a comprehensive policy review of US strategy in Afghanistan and neighbouring Pakistan due before the April 3-4 NATO summit in Strasbourg, France and Khel, Germany.

After the United States, Britain is the second biggest troop contributor to a multinational NATO-led force helping Kabul fight Taliban-led insurgents and establish its authority.

Obama has announced he would deploy an additional 17,000 US troops to Afghanistan but British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said Wednesday that, although applauding the move, his country had no plans to follow suit.

In an interview with The Financial Times, British Defence Secretary John Hutton said Britain would propose setting up a 3,000-strong permanent defence that could persuade some reluctant alliance member countries to send troops to Afghanistan.

Britain and the US have agreed to the transfer of former British resident Binyam Mohamed from detention at the US naval base at Guatanamo Bay Cuba "as soon as the practical arrangements can be made," the Foreign Office said Friday.

The Washington Post reported the transfer could take place as early as Monday.