LA Times: British PM gives American president spine, again

LA Times: Top of the Ticket
by Johanna Neuman
September 25, 2009

The array of world leaders was familiar. Against the backdrop of an international summit, this time the G-20 meeting in Pittsburgh, and an international crisis — disclosure that Iran has for years been building a second nuclear weapons facility — British Prime Minister Gordon Brown put some spine in President Obama’s warnings to Tehran.

While Obama talked about “a direct challenge to the basic compact at the center of the nonproliferation regime,” Brown talked about an Oct. 1 deadline. Confronted by the serial deception of many years, the British leader said, the international community has no choice today but to draw a line in the sand.

The specter of a British prime minister adding bulk to an American president’s rhetoric and perhaps resolve is nothing new…

…In Obama’s defense, he was speaking for four world leaders, reading a text that had been approved by diplomats from Britain, France, Germany and the United States, while they were free to speak for themselves. Still, the difference in their tone was striking.

The British press has complained for months that Obama, perhaps wary of Brown’s low popularity, has regularly snubbed the British prime minister. As if hoping to douse talk of a snub, today the White House announced that Brown and Obama will hold a bilateral meeting this afternoon…

The complete article and comments by Brown, Sarkozy, and Obama are at the LA Times.

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