Mitt Romney touches down in England | News | DW | 26.07.2012
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Mitt Romney touches down in England

Mitt Romney visited London on Thursday for a frantic schedule of meetings with Britain's top political figures. Although the visit was intended to demonstrate Romney's diplomatic nous, it has not been without its gaffes.

The presidential hopeful for the USA's Republican party, Mitt Romney, was in Britain on Thursday for a series of meetings with British leaders in a bid to demonstrate his foreign policy credentials.

“I've got a number of conversations with leaders present and past of Great Britain,” Romney said Thursday, “and recognize of course the unique relationship that exists between our nations, our commitment to common values, our commitment to peace in the world and a desire to see a stronger and growing economy.”

The likely GOP nominee has already met with the former British prime minister Tony Blair at his private office near Hyde Park on Thursday. Romney and Blair, who is now a special envoy to the Middle East, discussed the Middle East, in particular Syria and Iran, as well as the upcoming London Olympics.

Romney then met with Britain's leader of the opposition Ed Miliband, which was followed by talks with the UK's foreign secretary, William Hague. The candidate was also scheduled to meet with the UK's deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, and Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, the most important financial figurehead in UK politics. Romney is to meet David Cameron on Thursday as well.

Romney is also slated to attend a high profile fundraiser for his London supporters at the swanky Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Knightsbridge, central London. Former Barclays CEO Bob Diamond was set to be one of the hosts for that fundraiser but he has resigned from his role in the event, given his recent departure from Barclays over the rate-rigging Libor scandal.

Not the smoothest of visits

Although analysts say that Romney's visit is part of a strategy by his candidacy team to prove that he has diplomatic credibility and dispel doubts over the fact that Romney is a one-term governor with little direct experience of international politics, the visit has not been without its gaffes.

Barack Obama (L) and Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney is eager to win foreign policy brownie points from the American public against President Barack Obama

One of the candidate's campaign operatives sparked controversy after they were quoted in a British broadsheet newspaper as heavily implying that President Obama did not understand the “Anglo-Saxon heritage” that Britain and the United States share.

Romney also made undiplomatic remarks about British preparations for the Olympics on Thursday.

“It's hard to know just how well it will turn out," he said in an interview with NBC from London.

"There are a few things that were disconcerting.The stories about the private security firm not having enough people, the supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials - that obviously is not something which is encouraging," he said, in reference to talk over a walkout by immigration staff by British border officials on Thursday. The strikes have since been called off.

Romney also questioned the festive spirit of British people on the eve of the Olympics.

"Do they come together and celebrate the Olympic moment? And that's something which we only find out once the Games actually begin," he said.

Romney is also due to travel to Warsaw and stop over in Israel on Sunday for a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, where he is expected to try and set apart his own attitude to US relations with its Middle Eastern ally from that of Obama. He has in the past criticized Obama for what he has labelled his “shabby treatment of one our finest friends.”

sej/mz (AFP, AP, dpa)

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