Obama’s strongest ally tag to France angers BritainBy IANS
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
LONDON - Officials at the British prime minister’s office said US President Barack Obama’s statement on France being America’s strongest ally has cast severe doubt on the historic special relationship between the US and Britain.
Obama gave an “effusive” welcome to French President Nicolas Sarkozy at the White House.
“We don’t have a stronger friend and stronger ally than Nicolas Sarkozy and the French people,” Obama had said.
Obama’s comments are being seen as a snub to British Prime Minister David Cameron and has fuelled fears that the US now regards Britain as irrelevant on the international stage, according to the Daily Express.
“This is a deeply offensive remark that ignores the price our troops have paid in blood fighting shoulder to shoulder with the Americans. It does raise the question whether the so-called special relationship really means anything anymore,” a senior Tory said.
Commander John Muxworthy, founder and director of the UK National Defence Association, said: “Politicians have to observe diplomatic niceties but perhaps words should be chosen more carefully.”
“This ignores the fact that the second greatest loss of life among allied forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, after the Americans themselves, has been of the British,” he said.
Tory MP Patrick Mercer said: “I’m getting a bit fed up with the American president using terms like ‘best ally’ so loosely. It’s Britain that has had more than 300 servicemen killed in Afghanistan, not France. That is a lot more powerful than any political gesture-making.”
The daily said British Foreign Office diplomats have been “increasingly concerned about a cooling in Anglo-American relations since the close friendship between Tony Blair and former US president George W. Bush”.
“Gordon Brown was humiliatingly snubbed as prime minister on several occasions in his drive to forge a close relationship with Obama,” the daily recalled.
“And while Cameron has established a warmer personal chemistry with the Obamas, the White House has made it clear that maintaining the special relationship is no longer a foreign policy priority,” the daily said.
Obama has repeatedly spoken of his desire to work with the European Union rather than Britain.