Obama ‘refused talks with Brown’
By politics.co.uk staff
US president Barack Obama reportedly turned down several requests from Downing Street to hold bi-lateral talks between the two parties in New York it emerged today.
Number 10 have vigorously denied reports that there was any snub involved but it is believed that US anger over the release of the Lockerbie bomber has soured the ‘special’ relationship between the two countries.
Mr Obama has held formal private meetings with the leaders of China, Russia and Japan but although the prime minister is understood to have informally met the president at a number of events this week, there is no formal discussion time scheduled in the diary.
Downplaying the issue, a Downing Street spokesman said: “These stories about a ‘snub’ are completely without foundation.
“As we have said throughout the week, the PM and President Obama are having a number of meetings this week. This included a wide ranging discussion following last night’s climate change dinner.
“They will also be co-chairing an important meeting on Thursday on Pakistan and the fight against terrorism. There will be further meetings at the G20 Summit in Pittsburgh.”
A White House spokesman also rejected suggestions of a snub saying: “Any stories that suggest trouble in the bilateral relationship between the United States and UK are totally absurd.
“We would add that President Obama and prime minister Brown enjoy a terrific relationship, they speak regularly on a range of the most difficult challenges facing our two nations and meet frequently.”
This morning Northern Ireland secretary Shaun Woodward, who is with Mr Brown at the UN, told the Today programme that Mr Brown would be spending all day with Mr Obama at the G20 summit in Pittsburgh on Friday.
However, the Obama administration are known to be furious regarding the release of the Lockerbie bomber last month by the Scottish government.
Last week, the White House revealed that the president had expressed his personal disapproval during a phone call to Mr Brown.
Mr Brown’s has been dogged by problems with Libya since the release of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi.
His speech to the UN general assembly last night was delayed by almost two hours because Colonel Gaddafi over-ran.