Sunday, 3 Mar 2024

David Cameron denies ‘interfering’ with US politics with Washington DC visit

David Cameron has denied “interfering” with US politics after he flew to Washington DC to encourage Congress to vote through a package of support for Ukraine.

The Foreign Secretary joined US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at a press conference on Thursday. Lord Cameron said: “I hope I’ve been very clear to say I’m not telling you how to do this vote and how to run your life or anything else.

“I’ve literally just come as a friend of America, as a friend of Ukraine, and made some arguments that I think are very relevant about why this is absolutely the right thing to do.”

Lord Cameron’s speech came a day after Senate Republicans opposed the aid package.

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The US Congress failed to pass a $110 billion (£88 bn) package of wartime funding for both Ukraine and Israel as well as other national security issues. Lord Cameron continued: “In the 1930s we didn’t act fast enough to deal with an evil dictator who was invading European countries and redrawing borders by force, and we know how that ended.

“I think strength through deterrence and helping your allies and stopping this appalling invasion is absolutely essential, so I’ve been making those arguments.”

Lord Cameron said he was speaking with a view that the Senata would “listen and hopefully vote through the money”. The sentinement was echoed by Blinken.

He said the Foreign Secretary was “more than welcome” and sometimes “hearing something from our closest ally and partner has an ever greater resonance than hearing it from me or other people in the administration”.

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He said: “There is no more important relationship for Britain than this partnership with the United States.”

Speaking earlier in the day, Blinken said the US and UK were “in lockstep when it comes to continuing to do everything possible to ensure that Putin’s aggression remains a strategic defeat and failure for Russia”.

The press conference came shortly after Lord Cameron warned that blocking the package of support for Ukraine would be a “Christmas present” for Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping. The Foreign Secretary urged allies to rally around Kyiv, describing the response to the conflict as “the great test for our generation” as he delivered a speech at the Aspen security conference in Washington DC.

The White House has sounded the alarm about what might happen if further funding is not approved soon, suggesting Ukraine’s military would be stalled or overrun. Lord Cameron used his two-day visit to the US to warn that if Putin wins “it won’t be the end of this”, citing the 2008 conflict in Georgia.

The Foreign Secretary, who was prime minister during Russia’s takeover of Crimea in 2014, warned that “American lives” could be at risk if the Russian president targeted a Nato ally next. Speaking at the conference, Lord Cameron said: “I see it as the great test for our generation, the great challenge for our generation. Are we going to defend this democracy?”

He added: “We should pass this money to the Ukrainians. We should back them and make sure that it’s Putin who loses because if that money doesn’t get voted through, there are only two people who will be smiling.

“One of them is Vladimir Putin in Russia. The other one is Xi Jinping in Beijing. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to give either of those people a Christmas present.”

Lord Cameron told the summit he would also raise the prospect of using frozen Russian assets to help rebuild war-torn Ukraine, a measure that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the UK was considering earlier this year.

He said: “I think there’s a very strong argument for taking the frozen money and spending it on rebuilding Ukraine, and that is, if you like, a down payment on the reparations that Russia will one day have to pay for the illegal invasion.”

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