UK Foreign Secretary meets US Secretary of State in Washington, D.C.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

William Hague and Hillary Clinton meet for the first time since the UK election last week

British Foreign Secretary William Hague travelled to Washington, D.C. on Friday to meet his opposite number, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the first time since the election ten days ago and the formation of a coalition government six days later.

Hague, who was leader of the UK's Conservative party between 1997 and 2001, travelled to the United States in his first overseas visit in his capacity as foreign secretary almost as soon as his appointment to the post was confirmed and was keen to point out that US President Barack Obama had been the first foregin leader to telephone David Cameron and congratulate him upon becoming UK Prime Minister and that the promptness of his visit was intended "to show we reciprocate that warmth" shown by the US to the new coalition government.

Clinton told Hague that she was "enthusiastic" about the new coalition government on the UK and the "chemistry" between Cameron and his Liberal Democrat deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg. The talks focused on the major foreign policy concerns shared by both countries, such as Afghanistan, Iran and the Middle-East and the pair ended the subsequent press conference by expressing their unity on those issues, particularly on further UN sanctions against Iran and on the ongoing campaign in Afghanistan.

Clinton, who ran against Obama in the Democratic Party's primaries during the 2008 presidential election, was at pains to emphasise that any future disharmony in the Westminster coalition government would not affect US–UK relations, nor the ability of the US to rely on the UK as partner in the future. Comparing the two political systems, Clinton said "We don't formally have a coalition government in the way that you have formed one in the UK now, but we have enough of our own internal differences that we have to sort through."

Hague insisted that he intended to take a more relaxed approach to relations with the US than those of his Labour predecessors, adding that "[e]verything I've said today about our approach to relations with the United States is an approach shared by the whole cabinet and I'm speaking on behalf of a united government".

Cameron and Obama are scheduled to meet in person at next month's G20 meeting in Canada.