After the pomp, the politics

Behind closed doors: Today will see talks between Cameron and Obama
Behind closed doors: Today will see talks between Cameron and Obama

By Ian Dunt

Barack Obama's visit to the UK turned from ceremony to politics today, with a press conference and a speech to both houses of parliament.

The nuts and bolts of the President's visit took place this morning in Downing Street, with talks focussing on the Middle East and Libya in particular.

Afterwards, Mr Cameron and President served barbecue food to military personell in the gardens of Downing Street, on a beautifully sunny day in central London.

The two men were later questioned by journalists outside Lancaster House before Preident Obama delivered a passionate speech about the continued need for British and US leadership to Westminster Hall.

Obama Westminster Hall speech in full

Obama visit as-it-happened

Sketch: Obama in the flesh

The US has been widely criticised for being forced onto the sidelines as Arab demonstrators took down dictators themselves - many of them US allies.

Britain's support for the Arab Spring has been much more pronounced, but Mr Cameron has found himself in trouble for hosting Bahrain's crown prince and taking a collection of arms dealers with him to Egypt following the overthrown of Hosni Mubarak.

But President Obama was keen to stress his support for the Arab Spring this trip, while his speech outlined the need for western values in a world where eastern countries continue to increase their influence.

A smattering of protestors demonstrated against President Obama's visit outside parliament but were largely outnumbered by spectators. It was a far cry from George Bush's visit, when police scuffled with activists in the streets outside Buckingham Palace.

The US president, accompanied by wife Michelle, spent yesterday speaking to the royal family, including meetings with the Queen, Prince Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall and newlyweds the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

He also laid a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey and attended a state banquet at Buckingham Palace.

The traditional nod to the mandatory 'special relationship' rhetoric came in the form of a joint article for the Times newspaper, in which David Cameron and President Obama coined the new term "essential relationship".


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