Obama says bond shared by US and UK is 'greatest catalyst for global action'
Barack Obama paid rich tribute to the bonds between Britain and America yesterday, hailing the so-called special relationship as more indispensable than ever as the world approached a turning point following a decade of war and recession.
"Our nations have arrived at a pivotal moment once more," the US president told both houses of parliament. Despite the decline of conflict in Iraq, the "reversal of the Taliban's momentum" in Afghanistan and the stabilisation of the global economy, there were fresh challenges that required strong British and American leadership, he said.
Mr Obama also said that Middle Eastern countries that had risen up against authoritarian regimes would get funding and backing from G8 countries in a move to install permanent democracies and bolster Western security, under a joint plan between Britain and the US.
British Prime Minister David Cameron will today fly to a meeting of world leaders in France determined to seek support for the pro-democracy movements in North Africa and elsewhere in the Middle East.
Standing alongside Mr Obama at a press conference during the US president's state visit yesterday, the prime minister made it clear the Arab Spring had to be a "turning point in history".
He said the G8 group would discuss how to promote "democracy, freedom and prosperity" in the Middle East. So far only the pro-democracy movements in Egypt and Tunisia have successfully toppled their leaders.
In Mr Obama's speech later that day, he decried the "fashionable" view that as countries such as China, India and Brazil rise, the established powers must inevitably suffer, he said: "As more nations take on the responsibilities of global leadership, our alliance will remain indispensable to the goal of a century that is more peaceful, more prosperous and more just," he said.
The president called British and American shared leadership "the greatest catalyst for global action", drawing an historical arc from the "beaches of Normandy, to the Balkans to Benghazi" along which both countries had united to protect liberty.
"If we fail to meet that responsibility, who would take our place?" Mr Obama asked. "Our action -- our leadership -- is essential to the cause of human dignity." (© Daily Telegraph, London)