UK Prime Minister David Cameron and US President Barack Obama have vowed to boost cooperation on cyber security. The UK and the US plan to share information on cyber threats through monitoring encrypted communications.
The British Prime Minister David Cameron arrived Thursday evening at the White House. On his two-day visit to Washington, he aims to press President Barack Obama on getting American technology companies to allow governments to snoop on encrypted communications. Cameron also intends to improve the flow of information between the US and UK.
Fears of additional attacks by Islamic extremists grew Thursday, when police in Belgium killed two suspects during an anti-terror raid.
In a joint press conference at the White House on Friday, President Barack Obama said the US and UK will do everything in their power to help France seek justice for last week's terror attacks. "With our allies we will confront terrorism wherever it appears," the British Prime Minister added.
UK, US cooperating on cyber security
As a new joint defense against online criminals, the British Prime Minister talked to Obama about getting companies such as Google and Facebook to allow governments to view encrypted messages in order to avoid cyber threats. However, his view addresses a delicate issue in the US and in Britain; countries that have both tried to find a balance between security and privacy.
"The social media and the internet is the primary way the terrorists communicate," Obama said during the press conference.
The two countries plan to stage cyber "war games" together and launch a joint "cyber cell," where officials from the FBI and the National Security Agency will cooperate with Britain's GCHQ and MI5 intelligence and security agencies to share information on cyber threats. They are also to conduct stimulated attacks to test the defenses of organizations.
The first round of these war games, scheduled for later this year, will simulate an attack on Bank of England and commercial banks in both the city of London and Wall Street. There will be more exercises and tests on national infrastructure later this year.
"This is about pooling our effort so we stay one step ahead of those who seek to attack us," Cameron said. These measures should also show trans-Atlantic solidarity in the fight against terrorism.
Sanctions on Russia, but not on Iran
During the press conference in Washington, Obama and Cameron said they agree to maintain "strong sanctions" on Russia over its actions in Ukraine.
Regarding the nuclear negotiations with Iran, Cameron said: "On Iran, we remain absolutely committed to ensuring that Iran cannot develop a nuclear weapon."
On the other hand, Obama said he would not put more sanctions on Iran. "Congress needs to show patience," he said, adding that new sanctions would "jeopardize the possibility of providing a diplomatic solution to one of the most difficult and long-lasting national security problems that we've faced in a very long time."
Cameron's visit is likely to be his final Washington appearance before the UK general elections in May.
ra/ng (Reuters, dpa, AP)