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Obama has British PM aboard Air Force One

03-14-2012 08:17 BJT

WASHINGTON, March 13 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday afternoon took British Prime Minister David Cameron aboard his Air Force One presidential jet for a college basketball game in Dayton, Ohio, part of carefully-choreographed efforts to showcase the "special relationship" between their countries and the "personal bond" between themselves.

Reporters present noticed an excited Cameron when he was waiting to board the Marine One presidential helicopter near the White House to depart for the Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland state, where he and Obama took the Air Force One for Dayton for the finals of the college basketball season in Ohio, a key swing state in the presidential election in November.

The White House said the trip aims to show the prime minister " a slice of American life."

Cameron is the first foreign leader ever to travel with Obama on his presidential jet. The White House is also scheduled to host a state dinner for him and his wife Samantha on Wednesday evening, though he is not a head of state.

The warmth of the welcome has surprised some British officials as Obama was thought to favor closer ties with Asian nations rather than traditional allies in Europe, The Telegraph daily said.

The White House insisted on a strong working relationship as well as "a strong personal bond" between Obama and Cameron, saying their extensive meetings on Wednesday will cover the "special and essential relationships" between the two countries, in addition to an array of hot-button issues such as Afghanistan, Iran and Syria.

The two leaders hailed the U.S.-British alliance as "a partnership of the heart, bound by the history, traditions and values we share."

"But what makes our relationship special -- a unique and essential asset -- is that we join hands across so many endeavors, " they wrote in a joint article in Tuesday's Washington Post.

White House spokesman Jay Carney on Tuesday called Britain a key ally across the globe, including in Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and the Middle East.

"I don't think it's a surprise to anyone that this administration wants to continue to build on that very longstanding, very special relationship," he told reporters at the White House.

Editor:Wang Lingfei |Source: Xinhua

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