Obama to host Cameron on Monday, talks to focus on Syria, G8

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President Barack Obama will meet British Prime Minister David Cameron at the White House on Monday to discuss Syria and the G8 summit next month in Northern Ireland, officials said.

"The prime minister's visit underscores the special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom that has been crucial in advancing our shared security and prosperity," a White House statement said.

The statement said that in addition to Syria and the G8, the talks would include discussion on trade and economic cooperation and counterterrorism measures.

The Cameron visit will take place as Washington seeks to build momentum behind a new diplomatic effort to broker a transition of power in Syria, in a joint effort with Russia, one of President Bashar al-Assad's strongest backers.

After a visit by Secretary of State John Kerry to Moscow this week, the two sides said they hoped to hold an international conference by the end of May to build support for a peaceful solution in Syria.

Syria is expected to be a central issue at the Group of Eight summit of the world's wealthiest industrialised nations.

Mr Cameron's trip to Washington will be his first visit to the White House of Obama's second term and come ahead of the US president's trip to Northern Ireland for the G8 summit in June.

It also follows a lavish welcome he got in the United States in March 2012, when he enjoyed a trip aboard Air Force One, watched a college basketball game with Mr Obama and was guest of honour at a glittering White House dinner.

On that occasion, Mr Cameron attracted some criticism from media commentators back home after delivering what sounded like a political endorsement in an election year as Mr Obama geared up for a clash with Republican Mitt Romney.

Mr Obama and Mr Cameron conspicuously also used a joint press conference to try to convince war-weary American and British voters that sacrifices in Afghanistan had wrought "real progress" toward a future secure state.

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