Mayor of London flies to US to urge support for fighting terror
Boris Johnson will boost his status as a potential world leader next week by flying to the United States to urge senior American politicians to bolster the fight against Islamic State, London Evening Standard reported.
Hot on the heels of his trip to Iraq, the Mayor said there is much more that Britain - and other Western countries - could do to support those in the front line including the Kurdish Peshmerga.
He suggested that more military equipment, training and support could help allies in the region in their struggle - but he ruled out putting British boots on the ground.
City Hall sources confirmed they expected the issue to be raised with political figures, including from the US Congress, during the week-long trip to Boston, New York and Washington.
In an interview with the Standard, Mr Johnson said: "Is there more we can do with supplies and weaponry of the type that could be useful to the Peshmerga? I don't think the public wants to see our boys out there fighting on the front-line but there may be more we can do to train and to give support."
Mr Johnson is increasingly well-known on the world stage, having met three heads of government on a recent tour of the Far East.
The mayor said he would take the opportunity to promote shared Western values that would be key to helping defeat the IS threat.
"The things that London and America have in common are openness, tolerance, democracy, ideas of liberty. They are not trivial and they are not to be taken for granted because they are not uncontested everywhere around the world. There are countries that don't share those values and don't put the same emphasis as we do on those aspects of life," he said.
The US currently has around 2,000 troops in Iraq but they are primarily providing security and advice to the Iraqi government. The UK has fewer than 100 with limited weaponry and strict rules of engagement, although the Government has come under growing pressure to do more.
Mr Johnson's comments come just a week after he branded religious extremists recruited by terror groups as "w******" who are obsessed with pornography.
However, Mr Johnson denied his trip was designed to promote his own international standing ahead of his almost certain return to Westminster as an MP in May and said it was " about promoting London and our London businesses."
He wants to strengthen ties between the capital and the US in sectors including life sciences, tech, business, policing and the arts and will meet New York mayor Bill de Blasio as well as business and cultural figures.
He will also use the trip to argue for British cities to be given more New York-style powers over their finances.
Mr Johnson, who has dual nationality, having been born in New York, refused to comment on reports he had paid an outstanding US tax bill which he previously described as "outrageous".