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Obama set for royal welcome

Barack Obama is in London where he will be honoured by Queen Elizabeth at a state dinner on Tuesday evening, when he will also meet Prince William and Kate to congratulate them on their wedding.

The US President arrived on Monday night, having cut his trip to Ireland half a day short due to concerns over possible disruption by the ash cloud.

He and first lady Michelle Obama spent their first night in the capital at the home of the U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom.  They will stay at Buckingham Palace Tuesday night, as scheduled.

This is not Obama’s first visit to Britain, but it is his first formal state visit here.

He will meet Prime Minister David Cameron today and is expected to discuss economic issues ahead of the Group of 8 economic summit, later in the week in Deauville, France.


In addition to Mr. Cameron, President Obama will meet with Britain’s opposition leader, Ed Miliband, and he will speak to both houses of Parliament.

It is widely believed that another priority for Obama in this visit is to bolster the Anglo-American relations.  What Winston Churchill once dubbed the “special relationship” has shown some signs of neglect in recent years.

In a joint article in the Times, Obama and Cameron said of the relationship between the two countries: “Ours is not just a special relationship, it is an essential relationship – for us and for the world.

“When the United States and Britain stand together, our people and people around the world can become more secure and more prosperous.

“The reason it thrives is because it advances our common interests and shared values. It is a perfect alignment of what we both need and what we both believe.”

Obama’s first press secretary, Robert Gibbs, declined to describe it as a “special relationship,” but rather as a “partnership.”  And, administration statements referring to the energy company BP by its former name, British Petroleum, during the Gulf of Mexico oil spill angered some people in Britain.

However, the British Charge d’Affaires, Philip Barton, says the bond between Britain and America remains as strong as ever.

London was voted “World’s Leading Destination” at 2010 World Travel Awards.