Bush, Brown meet at Camp David under Iraq shadow

July 31, 2007 - 0:0

WASHINGTON (AFP) –- U.S. President George W. Bush was to hold talks with Gordon Brown on Monday, with the new British prime minister hoping to secure support for a peace deal on Darfur and movement on stalled world trade talks.

But the divisive issue of Iraq was likely to loom large over proceedings as the two men and their foreign ministers sit around the table for what aides said were ""wide ranging"" discussions at Bush's Camp David, Maryland, retreat.
Brown's spokesman Michael Ellam told reporters in London Sunday that Iraq, which controversially united Bush and former British prime minister Tony Blair in military action in 2003, would still be up for discussion.
And he rejected a report in The Sunday Times newspaper that Brown's foreign policy adviser, Simon McDonald, had sounded out the White House about a possible withdrawal of Britain's 5,500-strong force from southern Iraq.
At the same time, Bush is under pressure to change course in Iraq, including from within his own Republican party, but maintains that a ""surge"" of 30,000 extra U.S. troops launched in January will help stem the bloody tide of violence around Baghdad.
On Darfur, aides to Brown said he is seeking support from Bush for a five-point plan for resolving the Darfur conflict in western Sudan, which was agreed at a meeting last week with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
It includes calls for a new United Nations Security Council resolution for a 19,000-strong hybrid African Union-UN force, an immediate ceasefire, restarting the peace process and an economic aid package.
Brown has described Darfur as ""one of the great humanitarian disasters of our generation"" and is keen to work with Bush to urge more international action.
On the WTO talks, Ellam said Brown wants world leaders to remain ""fully engaged"" on liberalizing trade and had talked with the leaders of Brazil, China, India and South Africa recently, urging them to give it ""top priority.""
-----------------World owes U.S. a debt, says Brown
The world owes a debt to the United States for its leadership in the fight against international terrorism, Brown has said, BBC reported.
The prime minister described the link with the U.S. as the UK's ""most important bilateral relationship"" ahead of his first talks with President George Bush.
Earlier this month, Foreign Office Minister Lord Malloch Brown said it was time for a more ""impartial"" foreign policy and for Britain to build relationships with European leaders.
But en route to the U.S., Brown described himself as an ""Atlanticist and a great admirer of the American sprit"".
""As Prime Minister I want to do more to strengthen even further our relationship with the U.S.,"" he said.
""It is firmly in the British national interest that we have a strong relationship with the U.S., our single most important bilateral relationship.""
Brown said the shared ideals of two centuries of history ""have linked the destinies"" of the two countries.
This close relationship would help in the fight against nuclear proliferation, global poverty, climate change and global terrorism, Brown said.
Tony Blair enjoyed a close relationship with Bush but there has been speculation that Brown wants to keep his distance from the president.