Clinton: ‘No concern whatsoever’ about possible strained ties with Britain’s new government

By Desmond Butler, AP
Friday, May 14, 2010

Clinton: New British government off to good start

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Friday she has “no concern whatsoever” about the possibility of strained ties with Britain even though leading officials in the new coalition government have said they want more independence from Washington.

Clinton discussed Afghanistan, Iran, the Mideast and Iraq during her first meeting with Foreign Secretary William Hague, and told reporters that the Conservative-Liberal Democratic coalition was off to a good start.

Despite the earlier comments by Hague and Prime Minister David Cameron about greater independence from the U.S., Hague described relations with Washington as an “unbreakable alliance.”

Hague tried to reassure the Obama administration that the new British government is committed to the war in Afghanistan, although the new leaders have expressed some unease.

“We will give time and support for the strategy in Afghanistan to succeed,” Hague said during a joint appearance with Clinton.

Ahead of his trip, Hague suggested that Britain was eager to see more progress on training Afghan soldiers and police, and hoped they can take up security duties and allow British soldiers to leave the country.

“Of course, we want to speed that up in any way that we can, that is why Britain is doing so much to help train the Afghan security forces themselves,” he said.

Cameron has offered only equivocal backing for Afghan President Hamid Karzai. “I think at his best he can do good things, but we have to be very clear about the need to cut out corruption,” Cameron told The Economist magazine in March.

Associated Press writer David Stringer in London contributed to this report.

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