In Case You Missed It/Gordon Brown PM Britain: "World Owes President Bush Debt Of Gratitude"
Brown upbeat on US ‘special relationship’
Gordon Brown heaped praise on George W. Bush with language evoking Tony Blair on Thursday, as he sought to overcome the impression that the “special relationship” had entered a cooler phase.
Speaking at a joint press conference in the White House Rose Garden, Mr Brown said he stood “shoulder to shoulder” with Mr Bush in a transatlantic bond that was “stronger than ever”. “The world owes President Bush a huge debt of gratitude in leading the world in our determination to root out terrorism,” Mr Brown said.
In taking the measure of the next US president, the prime minister hoped to find fresh long-term purpose for a relationship that has become mired in the trials of conducting two wars and tackling a financial downturn.
Relations between Britain and the US have appeared to become less close since the departure of Mr Blair, who had a particularly strong relationship with Mr Bush. Tensions have emerged with Mr Brown, particularly over policy in Iraq.
On Thursday, Mr Bush and Mr Brown made a show of unity, delivering a tough message to Iran over its nuclear programme and advocating the widening of European Union sanctions against Tehran. Mr Brown pledged to talk to EU leaders in coming days to broaden sanctions to liquefied gas, sending “another signal to the regime that what is happening is unacceptable”. Mr Bush praised Mr Brown for his tough stance on Iran, saying “he sees the threat as I do”.
Addressing the faltering world economy, Mr Brown called for “vigilance” and concerted action to restore international confidence but there were no specific proposals from the two leaders.
Turning to Zimbabwe, Mr Bush chastised President Robert Mugabe for presiding over a sham election. “What kind of election is it if you [do] not let the will of the people be known,” he said.
Both leaders were at pains to stress the enduring strength of bilateral ties, referring to the “special relationship” a dozen times. Disagreements over strategy in Iraq, highlighted by recent fighting in Basra, were glossed over. While some US officials are privately critical of the UK’s handling of southern Iraq, Mr Bush chose to praise the heroism of British troops, while Mr Brown pledged there would be no “artificial timetable for withdrawal”.
Amid the pleasantries, however, there was room for disagreement. Mr McCain has expressed disappointment about the UK troop drawdown in Iraq, while Mr Brown's pro-trade instincts clash with the protectionist rhetoric of Ms Clinton and Mr Obama. But Mr Brown believes there are important areas of agreement, particularly on climate change, with whomever is elected. The change of administration is, in his mind, an opportunity to recast relations across the Atlantic.
Convincing the candidates to leave the campaign trail to meet him was perhaps the biggest coup of Mr Brown's trip to America, which has been eclipsed by the Pope’s visit.
I agree! The world does owe President Bush a debt of gratitude going after the terrorists. It's so nice to see the leader of another Nation saying the same thing we have known for a long time. I wish I had time to have posted this earlier but the Pope took over my blog for a while :-)