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UK no longer Bush’s closest ally, says UK daily


London : A right-wing British daily suggested Wednesday that the Bush administration no longer views the UK as its most loyal ally in Europe since Prime Minister Gordon Brown took office.

The Daily Telegraph, quoting White House sources, said that the US was instead increasingly turning towards France and Germany following Tony Blair’s departure.

“There’s concern about Brown,” a senior foreign policy official in the Bush administration told the newspaper. “The need to hinge everything on London as the guarantor of European security has gone,” the source said.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is seen by many as the man US President George W Bush can best do business with in Europe, it said.

Although German chancellor Angela Merkel, was said not to have lived up to initial expectations in Washington, “she was still seen as far preferable to her predecessor Gerhard Schruder.”
The White House official said that Britain would always be “the cornerstone” of US policy towards Europe, but that there was “a lot of unhappiness” about how UK forces had performed in Basra and that Brown would pull the remaining 4,500 troops out of Iraq next year.

The Telegraph, which traditionally has supported the Conservative Party in Britain, also said that there has been a notable reduction in contact between Downing Street and the White House since Blair left and fewer British ministers visiting Washington.

Brown and Bush were thought to have spoken only twice by telephone in three months since they met at Camp David in June, whereas Blair and Bush were said to have held video-link conferences, often weekly.

In general, the British press has suggested that Brown has tried to distance himself from the US, especially over foreign policy, which has been blamed for Blair’s rapid decline in popularity.

The Telegraph said that White House aides had accepted that the new British prime minister would not support military action against Iran.

“The wariness about Mr Brown could open doors to the Conservative Party,” which unlike Labour has been traditionally close the US Republican Party, the daily suggested.