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Obama tells Cameron BP criticism is not anti-British

US President Barack Obama assured British Prime Minister David Cameron in a telephone conversation on Saturday that his criticism of BP's handling of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is not about national identity.

US President Barack Obama

Obama heads to the Gulf Coast for the fourth time on Monday

US President Barack Obama told British Prime Minister David Cameron on Saturday that his frustration over BP's handling of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico had "nothing to do with national identity," and that he had no interest in undermining BP's value, according to a statement from Cameron's office.

During a 30-minute telephone conversation, Obama, who said last week he wants to know "whose ass to kick", reaffirmed America's "deep commitment to the special and historic relationship" between the US and the UK.

British PM David Cameron

Cameron has been under pressure to defend BP

But, Obama also made it clear that he expects BP to pay for the clean-up costs and meet economic claims from the spill.

BP under pressure

Cameron, who described the conversation as "warm and constructive", stressed the importance of BP to the British and other economies, after he came under pressure at home to defend the economic heavyweight.

On Friday he said that "it is in everyone's interests that BP continues to be a financially strong and stable company".

BP is a staple in British pension funds and accounts for 12 percent of all dividends paid by UK companies. Its share price has plunged by 40 percent since the offshore oil rig blast in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20 killed 11 people and triggered an environmental disaster, with up to 40,000 barrels of oil a day spilling into the sea and washing up along coastal areas.

Equipment being used in the efforts to cap the Deepwater Horizon oil well in the Gulf of Mexico.

BP has been told its plans to cap the oil well are insufficient

Some US lawmakers are demanding that BP suspend its dividend payments until the crisis is resolved. BP's chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg has been summoned to a meeting in the White House next Wednesday.

48 hours to improve containment plans

Meanwhile, BP has been ordered by the US Coast Guard to come up with an improved containment plan within the next two days, as BP's plans do not go far enough to have backup resources in place, according to the US military.

US government data released on Thursday suggests that the oil flow from the leak is higher than previously thought and could be upwards of 40,000 barrels a day.

Author: Nicole Goebel (Reuters/AFP/dpa)
Editor: Rick Demarest

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