President Barack Obama and U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron will discuss ways to sustain pressure on Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi when they meet tomorrow in London before Obama’s address to Parliament.
The NATO campaign against Qaddafi and measures to support the opposition in Libya will be “one of the lead agenda items” for the meeting at 10 Downing Street, the prime minister’s office, Ben Rhodes, the U.S. deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, said today.
“It’s essential that the U.S. and Europe continue to serve as that catalyst for global action” in Libya and countries in the Middle East and North Africa that are in a state of upheaval, Rhodes said.
Obama is on a two-day state visit in the U.K. before heading to Deauville, France, for a summit of leaders from the Group of Eight nations. The turmoil that toppled longtime rulers in Tunisia and Egypt and sparked civil conflict in countries including Yemen, Syria and Bahrain also will top Obama’s agenda at the G-8.
Tomorrow, in addition to meeting with Cameron, Obama also will address members of Parliament. He will be the first U.S. president to do so in Westminster Hall. The speech will highlight the U.S.-U.K. relationship, “which is both essential for our countries and for the world,” Rhodes said.
The U.S., along with U.K. and France, is leading efforts within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to push Qaddafi from power. NATO has intensified attacks on forces loyal to the Libyan leader, hitting targets in the capital, Tripoli.
“There’s a steady erosion of Qaddafi’s ability to endanger his own citizens that we believe demonstrates that time is going to work against him,” Rhodes said.
He said Cameron and Obama will discuss ways to support the opposition, including the transition once Qaddafi is removed from power.
The conflict between Qaddafi’s troops and rebels trying to end his four-decade rule has left most of the east in opposition hands and curbed oil exports from Libya, holder of Africa’s largest oil reserves. The International Energy Agency said May 12 that supplies from the North African nation “will remain absent from the market for the rest of 2011.”
Among the other topics for the two leaders are the transition and eventual withdrawal of U.S. and allied combat forces in Afghanistan and efforts to curb Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons capability.
The two leaders also will announce the creation of a joint U.S.-British security council focused on coordinating long-term strategy and increased sharing of intelligence, according to the administration.
The U.S. president will be the guest of honor at a formal state dinner tonight at Buckingham Palace. Earlier in the day, he and first lady Michelle Obama were welcomed to the palace by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.
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