Barack Obama will visit London next week for final time as President
Barack Obama will be visiting London next week for a final time as President, the White House has confirmed.
Press secretary Josh Earnest confirmed the news in the daily White House Press Briefing.
An impromptu visit from Mr Obama has long been rumoured ahead of the EU referendum, with the leader expected to join Prime Minister David Cameron in urging Brits to vote to remain.
The visit, which had been announced last month with no date attached, is likely to be the President’s last before his term ends in January.
Mr Earnest said: “The President has been to the UK. three or four times now, and I know he’s enjoyed each visit.
“This will be his second visit to London, I believe, and he’s hoping that it won’t be consumed just with work, that he might get to have a little fun while he’s there, too.”
The White House says a number of issues will be on the table for the meeting, including the war against terrorist group Islamic State (Daesh).
The official said: “I can tell you that the President strongly values the special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom.
“We partner on so many issues it would be difficult to enumerate all of them here… but I can tell you that President Obama has found Prime Minister Cameron to be an effective advocate for his country, but also an effective interlocutor for advancing the joint interests of our countries.
“So I’m confident that there will be a discussion about our counter-ISIL campaign. Obviously, the UK is making important contributions, including military contributions, to our effort to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL.
“The United States and the United Kingdom have worked effectively to try to enhance homeland security in our two countries. We obviously work seamlessly to share intelligence information in a way that enhances our nation’s national security.”
He added: “I would expect that the President will talk about the global economy. Obviously, the United Kingdom has a large economy that has significant influence on the global economy, and our efforts to strengthen our economic ties benefit the citizens in both of our countries.
“But, look, there are also important cultural ties. And the President will have an opportunity to talk about that. And I know the President is very much looking forward to his visit.”
Of Brexit, he said: “The position that we have previously expressed is that the United States benefits from a strong UK that’s part of the EU. And ultimately, the British people will have to decide exactly what they want the future to hold with regard to their country’s relationship with the rest of Europe.
“I think that, in any case, the President will respect the sovereignty of the UK and the right of the British people to make that determination. But when the President is taking questions from the press corps, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is at that point considered a newsworthy topic that comes up.”
The White House official also referenced the row over PM David Cameron’s tax affairs following the Panama Papers leak – that has led to the Conservative leader publishing his tax returns.
He said: “I know that the White House has been following this story. There’s been a lot of reporting that’s been generated by journalists who have analyzed the data that was released.
“And in some cases, this has caused politicians in places like Iceland and China and, yes, some places in Europe who have been connected to that information in one way or another.
“I know what Prime Minister Cameron has done is he’s released an unprecedented amount of information about his taxes in order to help his constituents understand exactly what has taken place.”
He continued: “We’re going to continue to advocate for transparency. And it sounds like Prime Minister Cameron has opted for greater transparency to help the British people understand exactly his role in this story.
“And I don’t know whether or not this will continue to be the topic of intense interest when President Obama travels to London next week.
“I would anticipate that while the President is in London, he’ll have an opportunity to take questions from all of you, and we’ll see at that point whether or not you and your British counterparts consider this to be a relevant, newsworthy topic at that point.”