Cameron and Obama’s prosperity goal

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Published: Thursday 15th January 2015 by The News Editor

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David Cameron and Barack Obama have warned securing economic prosperity is vital in the fight against terrorism, as the Prime Minister flew to Washington for talks with the US president.

Formal discussions on cyber security and counter terrorism in the White House tomorrow will be dominated by the shadow of the Paris atrocities that left 17 innocent victims dead.

Mr Cameron, who is on a two-day visit to the US capital, will push for action to ensure US-based social media companies, such as Facebook and Twitter, co-operate with intelligence agencies in the battle against terrorism.

In a joint article for The Times, the leaders wrote: “Over the last few years, our governments have worked closely to restore economic growth, improve our living standards and make sure families get the help they needed.

“Yet we know that progress and prosperity are never guaranteed. As we meet today at the White House, we reaffirm our belief that our ability to defend our freedoms is rooted in our economic strength, and the values that we cherish – freedom of expression, the rule of law, and strong democratic institutions.

“We must do all we can to bolster our economies against another global economic downturn … So we’re working to help families stake their claim to a better future and buy their first home. We’re supporting small businesses, expanding apprenticeships, improving education for all, and backing increases in the minimum wage.”

Mr Cameron has pledged to give security services more powers to monitor online exchanges between terror suspects and will raise the problem of terrorists using social media firms to plot.

A government source said: “The Prime Minister’s objective here is to get the US companies to cooperate with us more to make sure that our intelligence agencies get the information they need to keep us safe.

“That will be his approach in the discussion with President Obama, how they work together to get them to cooperate more. What’s the best approach to encourage them to do more.”

Mr Obama announced proposals earlier this week aimed at strengthening cyber security laws in the United States following a spate of attacks.

Pentagon Twitter and YouTube sites were attacked on Monday by hackers claiming to work for Islamic State and entertainments company Sony suffered a devastating breach of its systems last year.

The Prime Minister will join IMF managing director Christine Lagarde to co-host a roundtable discussion on the global economic outlook for 2015.

Over a working dinner at the White House later the premier and Mr Obama will focus on the economy, including the proposed free trade agreement between the European Union and the US.

Business deals worth £1 billion to Britain and expected to create 1,700 UK jobs will be announced during the visit.

The United States is Britain’s biggest trading partner, accounting for nearly £90 billion of exports in 2013 – double the amount that goes to Germany, the second largest importer of UK goods.

They will also review the international response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and look at how the region can be supported in its recovery, including through economic measures such as debt relief.

During talks in the Oval Office tomorrow, the leaders will focus on the international security threat, particularly the “lessons to be learnt” from the three-day killing spree waged by fundamentalist brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi and their accomplice, Amedy Coulibaly in France. Wider issues of countering extremism, de-radicalisation and returning foreign fighters will also be examined.

Europol director Rob Wainwright warned earlier this week that up to 5,000 EU nationals pose a potential terrorist threat to Europe after travelling overseas to countries such as Syria.

Progress made by the US-led coalition against Islamic State (also known as Isil and Isis), which has so far launched more than 900 targeted strikes against the terror group, are to feature in the talks.

Mr Cameron and Mr Obama will also look ahead to the negotiations over Iran’s nuclear programme in light of the extended deadline after failure to strike a deal last year. The president is coming under pressure from some in Congress to toughen up his stance, but it is understood that he and the Prime Minister are keen to give the process “space” to find a resolution.

The leaders are expected to renew their “tough message” to Russia that it must face consequences for its actions in Ukraine and will also discuss the rising threat from militant Islamist group Boko Haram in Nigeria.

Mr Cameron will again press his US counterpart to release the last British prisoner being held at Guantanamo Bay.

Published: Thursday 15th January 2015 by The News Editor

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