Romney looks to build UK ties

Romney looks to build UK ties

Romney looks to build UK ties

US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (L) meets with British Prime Minister David Cameron at 10 Downing Street in London. Romney is on a weeklong overseas trip to UK, Poland and Israel. REUTERS photo

.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney yesterday plunged into a series of meetings with British leaders, including Prime Minister David Cameron, as he sought to project an image of leadership during the first stop of a weeklong overseas swing that will include Israel and Poland, The Associated Press reported.

The start of Romney’s foreign tour was overshadowed by an aide’s reported claim that President Barack Obama doesn’t understand the “Anglo-Saxon heritage” Britain and the United States share, according to Agence France-Presse. The Republican White House hopeful’s campaign scrambled to deny that one of its operatives had told a British newspaper that Romney, unlike Obama, understands America’s “special relationship” with Britain.

Meeting with Blair

Romney met with former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who now serves as a special envoy to the Middle East. The Romney campaign said the two discussed the Middle East peace process and the situation in Syria, Iran and the wider region. They also discussed economic issues facing both countries. Romney then met with Ed Miliband, the current leader of the Labor Party – the opposition to Cameron’s Conservative Party.

Before that session, Miliband invited two reporters from what he called “my side” to ask questions. Romney declined to take questions from U.S. journalists.

Romney then moved on to a meeting with Foreign Secretary William Hague. The candidate was also scheduled to meet with Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister, and Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, Britain’s top financial official. This isn’t Romney’s first meeting with Cameron. The two also talked during a Romney visit to London in 2011. This year, Cameron traveled to the United States, where he met Obama and attended a state dinner in Washington but did not meet with Romney.
Romney’s meeting with a deputy prime minister is somewhat unusual. It’s happening because Britain has a coalition government, and Clegg’s Liberal Democrats govern alongside Cameron’s Conservative party.

The meetings come a day after the Daily Telegraph newspaper published a story quoting an unidentified Romney campaign adviser as saying the Republican believes the U.S. relationship with Britain is special because of shared “Anglo-Saxon heritage” and the White House doesn’t appreciate that shared history. Romney quickly distanced himself from any such view.

Romney also will spend part of his time in London raising money and highlighting a key part of his resume – the successful Salt Lake City Olympics he managed – with an appearance Friday at the opening ceremonies of the London Games.