Britain invites Obama for state visit: Buckingham Palace

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Queen Elizabeth II has invited US President Barack Obama to make a state visit to Britain, Buckingham Palace said Wednesday.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman told AFP that no dates for the visit had been agreed yet, but the earliest time such a visit could take place would be in early 2011.

"We are aware and supportive of the invitation extended to President Obama by the foreign secretary," the palace said.

Invitations for state visits are traditionally sent out by Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

British Prime Minister David Cameron passed on the invitation on behalf of the queen during talks with Obama at the White House.

It would not be Obama's first trip to Britain. The president was in London in March last year to attend a G20 summit aimed at fixing the global economy.

Accompanied by his wife Michelle, the visit included a trip to Buckingham Palace to meet the queen and her husband Prince Philip.

The first lady made headlines around the world when she briefly put her arm around the monarch's waist, an act that is usually considered a breach of protocol.

State visits are formal visits to the UK by overseas heads of states, with the aim of strengthening Britain's relationships with other countries.

The queen hosts just two such visits per year, usually one in spring and one in autumn.

Her guests are invited to stay at Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle.

In March, South African President Jacob Zuma came on a state visit to Britain, and the queen is preparing to welcome the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, in October.

© 2010 AFP

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