David Cameron flies out for talks with Obama

David Cameron flies out for talks with Obama
# 20 July 2010 00:37 (UTC +04:00)
Baku – APA. David Cameron will travel to Washington tonight to present a robust defence of BP in response to American anger over the oil giant’s possible role in the release of the Lockerbie bomber, APA reports quoting “Telegraph”.
The Prime Minister will assure President Barack Obama and senior US politicians that the company was not involved in the release of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi last year.
He will blame the terrorist’s release on the SNP-led Scottish government and reiterate his dismay at the decision, which was made on compassionate grounds because doctors believed Megrahi would die of cancer within three months. It has since been disclosed that he may live for up to 10 years.
A spokesman for Mr Cameron said: “The Prime Minister’s view is that the decision to release Megrahi was wrong and he deeply regrets the pain that his release has caused. However, it was a decision for the Scottish Executive alone.
“On the issue of links between BP and the release of Megrahi, the Foreign Secretary has made very clear that there is no evidence to support these claims.”
The row over the release of the only man convicted of blowing up Pan Am flight 103 in December, 1988 will cast a shadow over Mr Cameron’s first trip to Washington as Prime Minister.
He was hoping to use the three-day visit to develop his personal relationship with Mr Obama, after a promising meeting at the G20 meeting in Toronto last month.
The two leaders will have a private meeting in the Oval Office tomorrow morning.
Following sharp cuts to the public sector, Mr Cameron is thought to have ordered an “austerity visit” — flying on a normal scheduled airline to reduce costs. The transatlantic row over BP has dogged diplomatic relations since April, when an explosion on its Deepwater Horizon rig caused a massive oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico.
The oil giant has become a pariah in America and the announcement last week that the leak had been finally capped has done little to improve its standing. US senators have turned their focus to BP’s possible role in the release of Megrahi last year.
BP has admitted lobbying the Government to sign a prisoner transfer agreement with Libya, which paved the way for the release of the terrorist.
Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi, the son of Libyan dictator Col Muammar Gaddafi, has previously admitted that for Libya the only prisoner that mattered was Megrahi.
The US Senate is to hold a hearing on BP’s role in the scandal next week and will summon senior executives from the company and British government officials.
Mr Cameron faces striking a difficult balance between restating his opposition to the decision to release Megrahi and protecting the reputations of BP and Britain from a further battering.
Sir Nigel Sheinwald, the British ambassador to Washington, and William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, have already been forced to issue statements stressing that there was no link between the prisoner’s release and BP winning lucrative oil concessions.
Mr Cameron will make his case during a series of meetings with senators and other members of Congress tomorrow after his meeting with the President.
However, it is understood that Downing Street will resist giving the Senate access to internal documents and officials involved in the decision.