Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Today in the UK: Parliament and Press Conferences. And Michelle.

"I have known few greater honours than the opportunity to address the mother of Parliaments in Westminster Hall. I am told that the last three speakers here have been the Pope, her Majesty the Queen, and Nelson Mandela - which is either a very high bar, or the beginning of a very funny joke."

President Obama became the first US President ever to address a joint session of the UK Parliament in Westminster Hall.

I've been spending the last couple of days traipsing to and from various different media outlets, assuring them all - in response to the identical, inevitable questions, that yes: Britain is indeed very special to us. It gets tedious to repeat, because to me it's so blindingly obvious - of COURSE the relationship between Britain and America is close, important, cordial and thriving. How could it be otherwise? In a multilateral world where the adversarial conflict of superpowers from the Cold War is being by a world led by America but anchered with new vital powers across Europe, Asia and South America - where the Arab Apring has created a moment of opportunity for democracies in North Africa - our relationship with our most trusted ally are bound to be more important than ever. The fact is that, yes, America has other European allies such as France and German. And, yes, the Obama administration is reevaluating its foreign policy to reflect the strategic importance of Asia and the Pacific - which may mean that Europe itself becomes less strategically important.

But America is no longer (if we ever were) in a position to impose its will on the world as a medapower - we need our allies more than ever before, and Britain is first among equals. It is tightly bound to America by culture, history, economic investment, trade, immigration, and shared values and interests.

Frankly, it shouldn't really require the degree of reassurance that the British media seems to demand but for the record, one more time: yes, your friendship is extremely important to us.

Other videos from the day's events, not to be missed -

While Barack was recalibrating the global power dynamic, Michelle was dishing with a group of London schools girls about how she fell for him in the first place (because, she tells us, he loved his mother and he wasn't impressed with himself).

And here she is giving the girls a pep talk and making a hard sell for the importance of an education:

And finally, here's Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron giving a joint press conference earlier today.

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