Obama, Cameron Discuss Security Aspects of U.S., U.K. Ties

WASHINGTON, May 25, 2011 — The rela­tion­ship between the Unit­ed States and the Unit­ed King­dom is the lynch­pin for secu­ri­ty for both nations, Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma and British Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron said in Lon­don today.
The two lead­ers con­duct­ed a news con­fer­ence fol­low­ing meet­ings at No. 10 Down­ing Street — the home and offices of the British prime min­is­ter — and said they dis­cussed some of the secu­ri­ty con­cerns the two coun­tries share.

The pres­i­dent and the prime min­is­ter dis­cussed the progress in Afghanistan. The Unit­ed King­dom has the next largest mil­i­tary con­tin­gent in the coun­try after the Unit­ed States.

“We reaf­firmed the impor­tance of begin­ning the tran­si­tion to Afghan lead for secu­ri­ty this year and com­plet­ing that tran­si­tion by 2014,” Oba­ma said. “We dis­cussed the oppor­tu­ni­ty that exists for pro­mot­ing rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and a polit­i­cal set­tle­ment, which must be an Afghan-led process.”

Cameron agreed that 2011 is a vital year in Afghanistan. “We’ve bro­ken the momen­tum of the insur­gency, and even in the Taliban’s heart­land — in Kan­da­har and cen­tral Hel­mand — they’re on the back foot,” he said. “Now is the moment to step up our efforts to reach a polit­i­cal set­tle­ment.”

Both men have stressed that mil­i­tary force can­not impose peace on Afghanistan. Oba­ma re-empha­sized that Afghan Pres­i­dent Hamid Karzai will talk to any­one who is will­ing to end the vio­lence, split with al-Qai­da and accept the Afghan con­sti­tu­tion.

Cameron and the pres­i­dent said they agree there is a long-term secu­ri­ty inter­est in pre­vent­ing extrem­ists such as the Tal­iban from regain­ing pow­er and again turn­ing the nation into a ter­ror­ist haven.

Change is surg­ing through North Africa and the Mid­dle East. And the U.S. and U.K. sup­port those who seek peace­ful, demo­c­ra­t­ic process­es, the lead­ers said.

“We agree that the pur­suit of self-deter­mi­na­tion must be dri­ven by the peo­ples of the region and not imposed from the out­side,” Oba­ma said. “But we are both com­mit­ted to doing every­thing that we can to sup­port peo­ples who reach for democ­ra­cy and lead­ers who imple­ment demo­c­ra­t­ic reform.”

Cameron addressed the notion that many peo­ple have that ter­ror­ism can­not be defeat­ed.

“There are those who say that this ter­ror­ist threat is beyond our con­trol, and we pas­sion­ate­ly believe that is wrong,” the prime min­is­ter said. “We can defeat al-Qai­da, and the events of recent months give us an oppor­tu­ni­ty to turn the tide on their ter­ror once and for all.”

Cameron con­grat­u­lat­ed the pres­i­dent on the May 1 oper­a­tion that killed al-Qai­da leader Osama bin Laden. “This was not just a vic­to­ry for jus­tice, but a strike right at the heart of inter­na­tion­al ter­ror­ism,” he said.

The two lead­ers agreed that close coop­er­a­tion with Pak­istan is need­ed.

“Peo­ple are ask­ing about our rela­tion­ship, so we need to be clear: Pak­istan has suf­fered more from ter­ror­ism than any coun­try in the world,” the prime min­is­ter said. “Their ene­my is our ene­my. So, far from walk­ing away, we’ve got to work even more close­ly with them.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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