Obama begins state visit to Britain, hails "essential partnership"

Obama begins state visit to Britain, hails "essential partnership"

US President Barack Obama began a three-day state visit to Britain Tuesday amid a reaffirmation of the close cooperation between the two countries on international issues, ranging from Afghanistan to the Arab spring, DPA reported.

Obama, and his wife, Michelle, brought forward their arrival in London by some 12 hours, flying in late Monday from Ireland to avoid possible air traffic disruption over Britain from the Icelandic volcanic cloud.

The couple will be guests of Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace. But following their unexpected early arrival, they spent their first night at Winfield House, the US ambassador's residence in London.

After an official reception by the queen later Tuesday, Obama is due to meet with Prime Minister David Cameron and other party leaders.

In a joint article published in the Times Tuesday, Obama and Cameron said the traditionally close ties between the US and Britain were "an essential relationship for us and for the world."

It recalled the close co-operation between Britain and America on issues ranging from Libya to Afghanistan, Pakistan, counter-terrorism and the Middle East peace process.

"When the United States and Britain stand together, our people and people around the world can become more secure and more prosperous," the article said.

"Ours is not just a special relationship, it is an essential relationship - for us and for the world."

While founded on a "deep emotional connection," the "natural partnership" was the "perfect alignment of what we both need and what we both believe."

The two leaders also made a point of pledging their support for the protest movements in the Arab world.

"We will not stand by as their aspirations get crushed in a hail of bombs, bullets and mortar fire," they said.

"We are reluctant to use force, but when our interests and values come together, we know we have a responsibility to act...We will stand with those who want to bring light into dark, support those who seek freedom in place of repression, aid those laying the building blocks of democracy."

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