US, Britain to start joint security council

AP News
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Posted: May 23, 2011 8:37 AM
US, Britain to start joint security council

President Barack Obama will announce the formation of a new joint U.S.-British national security council when he visits London this week.

The White House said the National Security Strategy Board would allow the two countries to work more closely together and share intelligence on long-term security challenges, particularly in the Middle East and Afghanistan. Obama's national security adviser, Tom Donilon, and his British counterpart, Peter Ricketts, will head the group, which is expected to meet every few months.

The announcement of the new initiative comes as Obama begins a six-day swing through Europe, aimed in part at reassuring traditional U.S. allies that they still have a central role in American foreign policy.

The U.S. and Britain already share broad security interests, from terrorism concerns to the war in Afghanistan. With 10,000 troops on the ground, Britain has the largest number of forces there after the U.S.

Obama aides said the joint board would give the U.S. and Britain a forum to focus on strategy for dealing with long-term security issues, not just immediate concerns.

Obama was due to arrive in London on Tuesday morning following a 24-hour stop in Ireland. The two-day visit will blend the pageantry of a state visit at Buckingham Palace with bilateral meetings with British political leaders, most notably Prime Minister David Cameron.

Cameron said Monday that the agenda for his meetings with Obama would be wide-ranging.

"We've got some proper, very long talks, discussions about Libya, Afghanistan, security issues and also prosperity," Cameron told Britain's ITV. "The other big concern Barack and I have is making sure there are more jobs for our people, so getting trade going, making sure the economy's moving, dealing with our debts and deficits.

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Associated Press writer Raphael Satter in London contributed to this report.