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Wednesday, May 25, 2011
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LONDON: U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron on Tuesday warned Arab leaders they would not hesitate “to use force” if pro-democracy movements in the region were sought to be “crushed in a hail of bombs, bullets and mortar fire”.
The warning came as Mr. Obama started a three-day state visit to Britain amid reports of violent repression of pro-democracy campaigners in Syria, Bahrain and Yemen.
“We will not stand by...We are reluctant to use force, but when our interests and values come together, we know we have a responsibility to act...We will stand with those who want to bring light into dark, support those who seek freedom in place of repression, aid those laying the building blocks of democracy,” they said in a joint article in The Times.
Mr. Obama and his wife Michelle were given a ceremonial welcome and received by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at Buckingham Palace, where the couple will stay. The President had a brief meeting with Mr. Cameron ahead of substantive talks scheduled for Wednesday when he will also address a joint session of Parliament.
The talks are expected to focus on the events in Libya against the backdrop of concern in European capitals that Americans are not fully engaged in the NATO-led military operation against the Qadhafi regime. The view in Washington, on the other hand, is that it is Europe that needs to contribute more to the NATO effort.
Other issues likely to dominate the discussions include the fight against terrorism; the developments in West Asia, especially in the context of the stalled peace Palestinian peace process and the “Arab Spring”; and the situation in Afghanistan as both countries prepare for an early end to their decade-long military involvement in that country.
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