Obama to Brown: We Really, Really Like YouBy Jeff Zeleny
As Prime Minister Gordon Brown headed back to London after two days in Washington, the White House issued this unusual statement on Wednesday afternoon that laid out in significant detail how much Mr. Obama enjoyed his visit with Mr. Brown.
The President called Prime Minster Brown today at approximately 3 p.m. In a call that lasted about 10 minutes, the President congratulated the Prime Minister on his speech to Congress and expressed his appreciation for a very productive visit.
The President also thanked the Prime Minister for the gifts he presented to him: a pen holder carved from the timbers of the HMS Gannet, which was a sister ship of the HMS Resolute, and first edition biography of Winston Churchill. The president noted that the pen set is being displayed on the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office and the books are in the President’s personal study adjoining the Oval Office.
The President and the Prime Minister discussed that the First Lady and Mrs. Brown had a warm and personal visit, as well.
The President closed the conversation by stating that he looked forward to seeing the Prime Minister in London in early April.
For two days now, the White House has dismissed any suggestion that Mr. Brown received a less-than-grand welcoming by the president.
The suggestions were sparked, at least in part, when Mr. Obama did not invite Mr. Brown to appear at a formal press conference on Tuesday during his visit to the White House. Mr. Obama also did not host an evening social event or an overnight stay as some of his predecessors have when the British prime minister visits Washington.
Administration officials stressed that there were four components to the prime minister’s visit to the White House on Tuesday, including the Oval Office meeting, the working lunch, a presidential escort to the South Portico and a meeting between Michelle Obama and Sarah Brown.“I’d like to think that our relationship is terrific,” Mr. Obama said when asked by a British reporter about the health of the partnership with Mr. Brown. “I’m sure he won’t dispute me, in front of me, anyway.”