UK Prime Minister David Cameron has begun an official visit to the US with a trip on presidential plane Air Force One and a basketball game in Dayton, Ohio. On Wednesday night, the PM and his wife Samantha will attend a White House dinner, having been greeted with a 19-gun salute on the lawn earlier in the day.
Cameron “is being accorded the grandest welcome of any world leader in Washington this year”, reported Nicholas Watt in The Guardian. Indeed, US President Barack Obama is “pushing the boundaries of protocol because Cameron is a mere head of government who cannot be treated to a full state visit,” Watt noted.
Cameron’s “questionable” basketball analysis
But amid the razzmatazz of the basketball and star-studded dinners, the two world leaders will have to find time for some serious discussions. And the media has more than a few suggestions for topics of conversation.
Iran. “The most intractable issue facing the two leaders will be Iran,” said a Telegraph editorial, pointing to the fact that Israel is now openly talking of a pre-emptive strike against the country’s nuclear facilities. According to the editorial, recent statements from Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khomeini, have led “some to conclude that Tehran is looking for a diplomatic way out of the impasse” – perhaps unlikely, but certainly worth exploring during Obama and Cameron’s meeting.
Cameron must stand up for Britain. Donal Blaney argued in The Daily Mail that the “special relationship” between the US and UK has become increasingly one-sided – even after Tony Blair showed strong support for America in the wake of 9/11, Britain still did not benefit. The US didn’t even offer “faster clearance for British citizens through immigration lines at American airports, which would surely have been an easy concession to negotiate and a visible expression of America’s gratitude to the British people,” complained Blaney. At the very least, Cameron should raise the US-UK extradition treaty with Obama – but he probably won’t achieve anything: “I would be willing to wager that nothing substantive changes at all and that the one-way treaty will continue to operate and further injustices will occur all because Britain is too scared to ask its more powerful cousin to rebalance the relationship between these two close allies,” Blaney sighed.
Afghanistan. The “special relationship” may be unequal, but it is still important, argued a Times (£) editorial: “It reflects the reality that Britain remains the only country on which the United States can usually depend to commit blood as well as treasure to just international causes, and it celebrates the anomaly of nearly two and a half centuries of cultural friendship.” Cameron must use the talks to discuss joint positions on international affairs, particularly on Afghanistan: “Britain needs and deserves specific assurances that its forces will not be left more vulnerable than ever in Helmand by the departure of the US Marines, which is scheduled to begin this year.”
Oberon? “Apparently, Obama and Cameron will spend a lot of time discussing things such as Syria and Afghanistan, which is fine as far as actual news is concerned. But what about what the people on the street care about?” asked Hadley Freeman at The Guardian’s Comment is Free. Freeman proposed several key questions that Obama and Cameron should resolve during the talks, starting with: what is their celebrity name? “Brad and Angelina have one (Brangelina obviously); even Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux have one (Anthrax, pleasingly), so what about Obama and Cameron? My suggestion is Oberon,” Freeman wrote.
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