Conflict & Justice

Cameron and Obama cement their 'special relationship' with basketball


The Union Jack and the Stars and Stripes float in front of the White House in Washington on March 12, 2012, on the eve of the arrival of British Prime Minister David Cameron for an official visit. Cameron arrived in Washington on Tuesday for talks with US President Barack Obama. While hot-button foreign policy issues including Afghanistan, Syria and Iran will be high on the agenda, Cameron's three-day visit is also a chance to build on recent improvements in the so-called "special relationship."


Nicholas Kamm

US President Barack Obama and British Prime Minster David Cameron are scheduled to hold extensive talks on Wednesday; but first, basketball. 

Obama took Cameron on a trip to Dayton, Ohio to introduce the British leader to the NCAA's March Madness, and underscore what has been called a "special relationship" between the transatlantic allies, Reuters reported

The two world leaders ate hot dogs and talked sports as they watched Western Kentucky, who won the game 59-58, play Mississippi Valley State. They reportedly talked sports on the Air Force One flight over: Obama explained the rules of basketball to Cameron, who is a cricket fan. 

The visit to Ohio also carried a hint of election strategy for Obama: as one of November 6th's battleground states, Ohio will be an important factor in Obama's re-election, Reuters pointed out. 

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Meanwhile, First Lady Michelle Obama and the prime minister's wife, Samantha Cameron, hosted an Olympics-style event for Washington-area schoolchildren Tuesday, and the White House announced that Michelle Obama would lead a presidential delegation to the Olympics in London this summer, according to USA Today.

Cameron will also be honored at a state dinner in Washington on Wednesday night, according to Reuters. 

White House press secretary Jay Carney pointed to the trip to Ohio, and Cameron's three-day visit as a whole, as evidence of the close ties between Britain and the United States, USA Today reported. 

"It's the nature of the relationship between the two countries that I think is reflected by the itinerary that's been developed for this trip," Carney said.

Obama and Cameron are scheduled to hold extensive talks at the White House on Wednesday, and Afghanistan is expected to be a large focus of the meetings, BBC News reported. The Prime Minister and President will also likely discuss the violence in Syria and Iran's nuclear program. 

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Britain is a key partner in the NATO force in Afghanistan, and both leaders have leaned towards switching the mission in Afghanistan to "a support role" while ensuring that NATO maintains a commitment to protecting the country from insurgents, Voice of America reported. Their meeting comes at a tense time for Afghanistan, as US forces there reel from a shooting rampage by a US soldier who killed 16 people in Kandahar province. 

"I think people want an endgame," Cameron told the BBC. "They want to know that our troops are going to come home, they have been there a very long time. What I define as doing the job is leaving Afghanistan looking after its own security, not being a haven for terror, without the involvement of foreign troops. That should be our goal. So that the British public, our troops, and the Afghan government, frankly, know there's an end to this." 

Cameron has not visited the US since July 2010, which was his first stateside trip as prime minister, BBC reported. This visit comes strategically ahead of the NATO and G8 summits.