Brown and Obama hold bilateral meeting

Author: By Gavin Cordon in Pittsburgh and Andrew Woodcock, Press Association

Widespread press reports suggested that the president had “snubbed” Mr Brown
by refusing five separate requests for one-on-one talks, in a sign of
American anger over the release of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi.

But Downing Street today said the two men went into a bilateral meeting
immediately after issuing a joint statement in Pittsburgh with French
president Nicolas Sarkozy over Iran’s secret uranium enrichment plant.

The White House said that the meeting had initially been scheduled for this
afternoon, but had been brought forward to take place before the main
session of discussions by the G20 group of the world’s major economies.

Mr Brown dismissed the controversy over his meetings with Mr Obama as a media

Asked at a press conference in Pittsburgh how the bilateral had gone, he
replied: “I have been meeting the President all week and I am not going to
get into this game.

“I have met the President again today to talk about a number of big issues. We
have talked about Iran, we have talked about Afghanistan for the third time
this week and we have talked about the global economic crisis.”

Reports of an Obama snub were denied by both Downing Street and the White
House earlier this week.

The British press reported unnamed officials as saying that Number 10 made
“frantic” efforts to secure a private meeting but were rebuffed on five
separate occasions, even though Mr Obama was ready to meet other world
leaders at the United Nations General Assembly in New York earlier this week.

Number 10 yesterday dismissed the claims as “completely without foundation”,
while the White House released a statement insisting that the relationship
between Mr Obama and Mr Brown was “terrific”.

And the Prime Minister himself said he and Mr Obama continued to have “the
strongest working relationship and the strongest friendship”.

Downing Street said yesterday that possible meetings between the two men had
been discussed in “numerous” phone calls in the run-up to the New York and
Pittsburgh gatherings, but that no timing for formal bilateral talks had
been “pinned down” in advance.

Meanwhile, a White House spokesman said: “Any stories that suggest trouble in
the bilateral relationship between the United States and UK are totally

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