Friday 23 March 2018

Hillary Clinton 'very, very clear' the UK must do more in fight against Islamic State

Hillary Clinton is "very, very clear" that the UK must do more to support the Kurds in the fight against Islamic State, Boris Johnson has said.

The former US secretary of state also urged Europe to become less dependent on Russian gas, warning of the "real danger" posed by President Vladimir Putin, the London Mayor revealed after talks with the senator in New York City.

The meeting, which was originally expected to last 30 minutes but ran for 50, focused on global security, particularly the threat posed by Islamic State (IS, also known as Isis and Isil) and the security situation in Ukraine.

Mr Johnson, regularly tipped to succeed David Cameron as leader of the Conservative Party, was keen to ensure that Mrs Clinton, who is expected to run for US president next year, regards London as America's "number one ally".

Although he has previously met president Bill Clinton, they were his first face-to-face talks with Mrs Clinton but sources said the meeting was warm with good chemistry.

Mr Johnson said after the meeting, held at the Clinton Foundation: "Secretary Clinton was very, very clear that she thinks there should be more engagement, more support from the West, from the UK, in backing the Kurds, backing the Peshmerga against Isis."

He added: "She was very clear also about what she thinks is the danger posed by Russia and a real sense that we need to be very cautious about Vladimir Putin and what he trying to do around the whole of the former Soviet Union."

He added: "Her general position is that Britain and America are the two countries that can be relied on across the world to stand together fighting terrorism.

"Her feeling was that Britain is doing a lot more than most other European countries to integrate, to make people feel committed to the idea of Britishness, loyal to our country and that was very good to hear.

"But clearly she feels like, I agree, there is something wonderful about America in the sense that everybody is told they are American and that's it. And I think that's the approach we should have in Britain too."

Arriving for the talks, Mrs Clinton joked about the New York-born Mayor's leadership ambitions.

She quipped: "Is he announcing for president? Which one do you think he'll be - Democrat or Republican?"

But Mr Johnson had some diplomatic ground to make up at the talks after being reminded of less-than-flattering comments he made about the senator in a column for the Daily Telegraph in November 2007.

"She's got dyed blonde hair and pouty lips, and a steely blue stare, like a sadistic nurse in a mental hospital," he wrote.

Asked if the faux pas had been discussed, he said: "I want you to know Secretary Clinton was extremely kind and gracious and, insofar as the subject came up, she said she was pleased by some aspects of the article."

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