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UK PM Brown meets with US President Bush at Camp David

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Gordon Brown of the United Kingdom, walk past an honor guard Sunday, July 29, 2007

United Kingdom Prime Minister Gordon Brown met United States President George W. Bush at Camp David in Maryland for their first formal talks since Brown took office in June.

Gordon Brown arrived at Camp David on Sunday, July 30. Monday, they addressed the press in a joint press conference. According to reports, the talks focused on Iraq, Afghanistan, Darfur, world trade and climate change, amid speculation whether the two leaders could work together. Correspondents say they appeared relaxed as they faced reporters after their talks.

Cquote1.svg Everybody is wondering whether or not the Prime Minister and I were able to find common ground, to get along, to have a meaningful discussion. And the answer is, absolutely. Cquote2.svg

—President Bush

Both reiterated a commitment to fighting terrorism, which Prime Minister Brown called "a crime against humanity", and discussed ways of making sure that the two countries' security systems are "properly aligned" and share information.

President Bush spoke of waging an ideological struggle between those who "believe in freedom and justice and human rights and human dignity, and cold-blooded killers who will kill innocent people to achieve their objectives" and said that defending the "young democracies" of Afghanistan and Iraq was a way to defeat "an ideology of darkness" with a "more hopeful ideology".

"It's very important for us to make it clear to those who are in harm's way that these missions will be driven not by local politics but by conditions on the ground," the President added.

Cquote1.svg It's in Britain's national interest that with all our energies we work together to address all the great challenges that we face also together: nuclear proliferation, climate change, global poverty and prosperity, the Middle East peace process, [...] and most immediately, international terrorism. Cquote2.svg

—Prime Minister Brown

Iraq

Prime Minister Brown acknowledged a responsibility to support the Iraqi government and said the U.S. and the U.K. had a threefold aim: security for the Iraqi people, political reconciliation, and a stake for Iraqis in their future.

The Prime Minister spoke of a step by step transfer of control to the Iraqi government and security forces, with the British forces moving from a combat to overwatch mode in three of the four provinces under their responsibility. He said military commanders will determine when a similar transition will be made for the remaining province - Basra and that the recommendation will be placed before parliament. The head of the British military said last week that that the transfer is likely by the year end.

Seven of Iraq's 18 provinces, mostly in the Shia dominated south and the Kurdish north, are now formally under the control of Iraqi government and security forces. On being asked if U.S. deployment will continue till after the presidential elections next year, President Bush reiterated that this was going to take a long time, and said he will not prejudge a report by U.S. Commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, on how the recent troop 'surge' has altered the security situation.

UK Prime Minister proposed setting up a Basra economic development agency to bring jobs and businesses - "economic hope" for the region, and offered financial support for the project.

Darfur, Iran and the Middle East

 
President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown address the press Monday, July 30, 2007

Both leaders expressed strong concern over the situation in Darfur, and agreed to step up pressure to end the violence in the region by expediting a U.N. resolution mandating a U.N.-African Union peace force.

Meanwhile, at the U.N. Security Council, a revised draft resolution is being circulated today that drops language critical of Sudan government forces and scales back the peace-keeping force's mandate to monitor arms violation, following Sudan's objections. The peacekeeping force is to assume responsibility by the year's end but it will take up to a year to be fully deployed.

"We're agreed on encouragement for early peace talks, a call to cease violence on the ground, an end to aerial bombing of civilians, and support for economic development if this happens, and further sanctions if this does not happen.", Prime Minister Brown said.

Prime Minister Brown expressed support for President Bush's "bold initiative" in the Middle East peace process and said the two leaders agreed that sanctions against Iran were working and that they were prepared to toughen sanction with a new U.N. resolutions.

Trade and aid

Both leaders expressed support for measures to combat poverty, lack of education and healthcare, particularly malaria and HIV/AIDS, including ways to bring public and private sectors, faith groups and civil society to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

Prime Minister Brown, who has already spoken to several leaders around the world regarding the Doha round of trade talks, said contact between world leaders will be stepped up to quickly reach an agreement, which both leaders stressed was an important goal that they were optimistic of attaining.

Climate change was an important issue and needs to be tackled in the context of sustainable development as well as energy security, Prime Minister Brown said, and said that this agenda, agreed at this year's G8 in Germany, would be discussed in meetings over the next few months.


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