US, British leaders unveil new joint strategy board

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The leaders of Britain and the United States agreed Wednesday to set up a new strategy board to identify long-term economic and security challenges facing both nations, officials said.

At talks in London, British Prime Minister David Cameron and US President Barack Obama agreed that intelligence, defence and diplomatic staff should meet four times a year to discuss their strategic approach.

"The board will help enable a more guided, coordinated approach to analyse the 'over the horizon' challenges we may face in the future and also how today's challenges are likely to shape our future choices," they said in a statement issued by Cameron's Downing Street office.

"It is designed to better integrate long-term thinking and planning into the day-to-day work of our governments and our bilateral relationship, as we contemplate how significant evolutions in the global economic and security environment will require shifts in our shared strategic approach."

The board will be co-chaired by national security staff from both countries and will meet quarterly, attended by representatives of the defence, intelligence and foreign ministries. Its progress will be reviewed in a year.

Headed by junior defence ministers from both sides, it will look at how to link up service personnel and their families to local communities; support their transition into civilian life; and how better to help the wounded.

The initiative was one of six joint ventures announced after talks between Obama and Cameron in Downing Street, during a three-day state visit to Britain by the US president and his wife Michelle.

After hosting an informal barbecue for veterans in the Downing Street garden, the two leaders announced a new taskforce to support the armed forces, in recognition of the two countries' long cooperation on the battlefield.

Highlighting the sacrifices made by US and British troops serving in Afghanistan, they said the taskforce would "build on existing cooperation and share best practices on support to service personnel and their families."

Obama and Cameron also vowed to boost links on science and higher education; work together on global development; jointly promote volunteering and active citizenship; and increase cooperation on cyberspace.

© 2011 AFP

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