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AP: If David Cameron is PM, will work with Obama

AP: If David Cameron is PM, will work with Obama

British Conservative leader David Cameron makes one thing clear: if he takes over the government of the United Kingdom later this year, he will have no problems maintaining the special relationship with the United States or working with President Barack Obama.
Cameron's party is leading the polls in Britain, and Conservatives hope that when elections take place by June it will usher in the first Tory government since 1997. That would make the 43-year-old Cameron, a bike-riding, affluent Etonian who believes the Conservatives have what it takes to "fix Britain," the fresh new face of conservatism in Europe.
In an interview with The Associated Press outside of the Davos venue for the annual World Economic Forum, Cameron said that his views are in sync with the United States on a raft of issues. He also specifically endorsed Obama's recent proposal to introduce restrictions on risky conduct by banks that hold retail deposits and the new Obama plan in Afghanistan.
Cameron said regulation of banking and asking banks to repay some of the bailout money expended to shore up the financial system are "moral problem."
"Banks know that taxpayers will always support them, and yet they are able to take part in some extremely risky activities," he said. "There are some activities like large-scale proprietary trading, taking big bets, that shouldn't be done by banks that have retail deposits."
He also agreed with the Obama fee idea, saying he believes in "some form of bank levy so that we can make sure we pay back the money that has been lent by the taxpayers." He said there should be "international agreement for this" and he believes Obama has opened the door.
The endorsement stood in contrast to many of the bankers and financial managers who are attending the forum here, who have been raising concerns about what is seen as a new populist mood to regulate banks. It also would seem to put him in conflict with U.S. Republicans in the United States, who have been cool to the Obama banking proposals.
Obama in his State of the Union address Wednesday restated why he thinks banks need more regulation to discourage reckless behavior and why a fee on banks is fair.
"We can't allow financial institutions, including those that take your deposits, to take risks that threaten the whole economy," he said. Elsewhere he noted, "If these firms can afford to hand out big bonuses again, they can afford a modest fee to pay back the taxpayers who rescued them in their time of need."
Standing outdoors for the interview, looking out over snow-covered mountains, Cameron agreed that the regulation and fee might not be palatable to bankers, but he said he would be willing to work to persuade British bankers to come on board.
"It would involve some difficult conversations, no doubt about it, but the argument should go like this: The taxpayer has put the money into the banks. ... The taxpayer is right to ask in return that there are some things that banks shouldn't do."
"This is not about the politics of envy, this is not some revenge attack. ... This is about good honest common sense, prudence (and) how we have strong and stable financial systems in our countries."
Cameron was also supportive of the new U.S.-led effort to buy some breathing room in Afghanistan for President Hamid Karzai's government by putting in more troops to hold off the Taliban insurgency.
"We've finally got the right plan _ the proper number of troops, the proper idea about coordinating the military and the civilian side. I support what is being done both today in the London conference," he said, referring to Wednesday's conference in London of 70 countries on aid to President Hamid Karzai's government.
Cameron said the plan means "broadly increasing the troop numbers, increasing the aid, making sure the Afghan government cuts out corruption, building up the Afghan national army, so that country can take care of its own security and we can bring our brave troops back home."
Although Obama has a target of July 2011 for starting to bring U.S. troops home, Cameron said he did not want to impose a deadline on the effort. "The steepness (of the build down) will depend on success," he said. "We've got to have a timetable that's about achieving success rather than drawing too many artificial deadlines in the sand."
"We all want to bring our troops home," he said, "but I think what we need first is to make sure there's a basic level of security."
Despite being a Conservative while Democrats hold power in the White House, Cameron was relaxed about predicting a strong relationship should his party emerge victorious in elections that could likely come in May.
If he becomes prime minister, the historic ties between the U.S. and Britain would remain strong, he said.
"I feel it in my bones. ... It is never a problem for a Conservative to work with a Democrat," he said, referring to the long, shared history of both nations.
"It goes much deeper than politics, it is our shared interest in spreading freedom and democracy. ... It is the fact that we are on the same side of so many big arguments whether it is stabilizing Afghanistan, whether tackling Islamic extremism in the Yemen, whether it is making sure that we make our world safer and try to stop the spread of nuclear weapons."
Cameron said that "Britain and America are on the same side of so many issues and we should work very strongly together."
Even in the area of climate and technology, Cameron is enthusiastic about making common cause with the United States.
"America and Britain have some fantastic green technology industries. We've got to make our energy grids interactive. We've got to invest in offshore wind and wave technology. We've got to open up our markets, decentralize energy so that we can be more inventive and creative," he said.
"This is a great chance for us, and we should grab it."


Updated : 2021-03-03 07:34 GMT+08:00