THERE is certainly no shortage of important topics for David Cameron to discuss with President Obama this week. If advance reports are correct, President Karsai will make a speech in Kabul today in which he will say that the Afghanistan National Security Forces will take over internal security in 2014.
Stated thus it seems to set the date for withdrawal of American, British and other forces. But the draft of the statement also includes provision for continuing support which reads rather like a formula for a prolonged presence by the West in Afghanistan. How much influence will Mr Cameron have on Barack Obama? As a newly elected prime minister with an as yet undefined foreign policy, relatively little; and the President will have noted how anxious the prime minister has been to ingratiate himself by disagreeing with and detaching himself from the decision to return al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber, to Libya last year.
Whether it is right for a British prime minister to dissociate himself retrospectively from a judgement by a Scottish legal authority and to blame the government of the time must be open to doubt. It certainly gives the impression that Mr Cameron is more than anxious to please his host, as did his reference to Britain as the junior partner in the special relationship in his Time magazine interview.