Afghanistan, Iran, Syria to top agenda of Cameron-Obama talks

United front

WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama and Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron offered a united front Tuesday on many global issues, including in Afghanistan, ahead of talks between the two leaders.
In a joint opinion article appearing in the Washington Post, the two leaders called the US-British relationship, "a partnership of the heart, bound by the history, traditions and values we share."
"Put simply, we count on each other and the world counts on our alliance," they wrote, making particular reference to US-British progress in eradicating Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.
"As the two largest contributors to the international mission in Afghanistan, we're proud of the progress our troops have made in dismantling Al-Qaeda, breaking the Taliban's momentum and training Afghan forces," the two leaders wrote.
"But as recent events underscore, this remains a difficult mission. We honor the profound sacrifices of our forces, and in their name we'll carry on the mission," they said.
The article was published as Cameron and Obama prepared to meet in Washington for talks on a number of international issues, including the transition of security from NATO-led forces to Afghan control.
Casting a pall on the summit pageantry in Washington however was Sunday's massacre, after an army sergeant on a murderous rampage allegedly opened fire on Afghan villagers, killing 16 people including women and children -- an atrocity that has imperiled already strained Afghan-US ties.
Obama and Cameron in their article said their talks in the US capital would include discussions on the way forward in Afghanistan.
"Over the next few days, we will consult about preparations for the NATO summit in Chicago, where our alliance will determine the next phase of the transition that we agreed to in Lisbon.
"This includes shifting to a support role in advance of Afghans taking full responsibility for security in 2014 and ensuring that NATO maintains an enduring commitment so that Afghanistan is never again a haven for al-Qaeda to launch attacks against our citizens," they wrote in The Post.
They also in their article praised joint efforts to "sustain the global economy" through trade and investment, and impose tough sanctions on Iran for its nuclear program, among other areas of international cooperation.
Cameron and Obama are due to hold talks on Wednesday at the White House, where fears of an Israeli strike on Iran and the crisis in Syria are set to be discussed.
The three-day visit is also a chance to build on recent improvements in the so-called "special relationship."
Cameron will reportedly become the first foreign leader to travel with Obama on the US presidential jet Air Force One when the pair travel to the US election swing state of Ohio to watch a basketball game.