Obama meets Brown, Blair, says foreign tour no victory lap

Other News Materials 26 July 2008 18:40 (UTC +04:00)

US presidential contender Barack Obama Saturday rejected charges that he had exploited his trip to Berlin, Paris and London for his own election campaign, denying the five-day tour was a premature "victory lap", dpa reported.

It is part of the job of a United States president to establish effective relations with our allies, Obama told reporters in London after meeting British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Answering a reporter who had asked him to respond to Republican accusations that the had embarked on a "victory lap" abroad, Obama pointed out it was Republican candidate John McCain who had advised him to travel abroad and visit Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Democrat argued his tour had been important, because he was "convinced" America was facing problems "at home" which could not be solved "without strong partners" abroad, Obama said.

Obama described his conversation with Brown as "terrific." His talks in London are the final stage of a trip aimed at enhancing his foreign affairs image, which had led him also to Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, the Palestinian areas, Berlin and Paris.

At Downing Street 10, he reiterated his call for increasing the number of US troops in Afghanistan as well as for stronger contributions by European allies. Those stronger numbers were needed to win the conflict in Afghanistan and build the country, he said.

The Illinois senator noted the traditionally exceptionally strong ties between Great Britain and the US.

"I think there is a deep and abiding affection for the British people in America and a fascination with all things British. That's not going to go away any time soon," he said. He was answering a question about his more public appearances in Berlin and Paris.

In Berlin Thursday, Obama had made a lengthy foreign policy address to an enthusiastic crowd of some 200,000 in the city centre.

His London visit by contrast was low key, and unlike in Berlin and in Paris, where he had had talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy Friday, Obama only answered journalists' questions.

Observers said there was a desire in Britain not to seem to favour either Obama or his Republican Party presidential challenger John McCain, who visited Britain last March.

Deviating from the protocol, and to the surprise of tourists and Londoners, Obama and Brown took a stroll down cordoned-off Downing street. Onlookers, who were nonetheless held at a distance by security forces, were able to photograph the two politicians on the nearby parade ground.

Obama had earlier Saturday morning held a breakfast meeting at his London hotel with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, now the special Middle East envoy for the international mediating bloc of the US, United Nations, Russia and European Union. Their talks focussed principally on the Middle East, but also on Blair's work on climate change, a spokesman said.

Obama was also meeting Saturday with British opposition Conservative party leader David Cameron.