New UK FM to visit Washington on Afghanistan, Iran agenda

British FM Hague is expected to hold talks with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington, officials said.

New UK FM to visit Washington on Afghanistan, Iran agenda

British Foreign Secretary William Hague is expected to hold talks with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington on Friday, his first trip since the new government took power, officials said on Wednesday.

Hague was named foreign minister after the centre-right Conservatives and the smaller Liberal Democrats agreed on Wednesday to form Britain's first coalition government since 1945 following last week's inconclusive election.

Hague, a senior Conservative, said his priorities included the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan, where Britain has 9,500 troops, and the dispute with Iran over its nuclear programme.

"Iran's behaviour in recent years has been unacceptable to the great majority of the international community and that will be one of the subjects of my first international visit which will be to see Hillary Clinton later this week," he said.

"We have spoken. Mrs Clinton was my first caller on the telephone this afternoon," he told Sky News.

A Foreign Office spokesman said Clinton had invited Hague to Washington. "Subject to travel arrangements we hope that will happen on Friday," he said. "They've got many issues to discuss; Afghanistan, Iran, Middle East."

The Conservatives, the senior partner in the coalition, are traditionally pro-American but said repeatedly during the election campaign that their relationship with the United States would be "solid but not slavish".

Their stance was a response to a widespread perception among Britons that the former Labour government was too unquestioning in following the U.S. lead during the Iraq war.

U.S. President Barack Obama said on Wednesday he had spoken to new Prime Minister David Cameron who had reaffirmed Britain's commitment to the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan.

Cameron said during the election campaign he would not set an artificial deadline for withdrawing British troops from Afghanistan but said they should stay in Afghanistan around five years.

Reuters

Last Mod: 13 Mayıs 2010, 09:02
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