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British PM Tours WTC Site, Visits Newark

Thursday, March 15, 2012

PM Cameron and his wife, Samantha, leave flowers at the memorial while touring the site with Mayor Bloomberg. (Spencer T Tucker)

British Prime Minister David Cameron has visited the memorial at the World Trade Center after touring businesses in Newark, N.J.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined Cameron and his wife, Samantha, at the memorial to victims of the Sept. 11 terror attacks on Thursday.

The Camerons touched the bronze plaques inscribed with victims' names and gazed into the pools of water where the twin towers stood. They also were joined by Charles Wolf, whose Welsh-born wife Katherine died at the trade center. Wolf said it was a great honor to meet the Camerons.

Cameron also made a stop at New York University to take questions from college students and faculty about everything from the Syrian conflict to Scottish independence.

Cameron highlighted the "special relationship" that the U.S. and Britain enjoy in his brief opening remarks Thursday during a questions-answer session at the school's Manhattan campus.

He says his country should be increasing trade with its traditional partners like the U.S.

Earlier in the day, Cameron met with the mayor of Newark to learn about education reforms and other programs in the impoverished city.

With Newark Mayor Cory Booker as his guide, Cameron stopped by businesses in the impoverished city, about 10 miles from New York, that have been helped by local economic development aid. They included a small restaurant decorated for St. Patrick's Day and a coffee shop where the two men grabbed a table and talked.

During a walking tour of downtown Newark, Booker said the prime minister was interested in learning about local economic development initiatives as well as how local governments are structured.

Cameron met earlier with the mayor - a Rhodes Scholar who got a degree from Oxford in 1994 - at City Hall to discuss education reforms in New Jersey's largest city and other initiatives.

"I'm a great believer that big-city leaders can do great things for their communities, so It's great to have this session where we can quiz you on some of the projects you are running and exchange some information on schooling, on crime, on police accountability, on regeneration - those are the things we're interested in hearing about but it's great to be so welcome," Cameron said.

A day after his joint appearance with President Barack Obama, in which the two men discussed the war in Afghanistan, Cameron also planned a sojourn to the World Trade Center site and the memorial for the lives lost in the terrorist attack that led to that war.

Cameron arrived in the U.S. on Tuesday. His flight back to England is scheduled for late Thursday night.

His trip included a college basketball game with Obama as well as a state dinner at the White House.

The two leaders discussed the war in Afghanistan at a joint appearance on Wednesday. They said that NATO forces would hand over the lead combat role to Afghanistan forces next year as the U.S. and its allies aim to get out by the end of 2014.

The announcement came after the war effort was rocked by the burnings of Qurans at a U.S. base, deadly protests against Americans and a shooting rampage, allegedly by a U.S. soldier, that left 16 Afghan civilians dead.

Obama, 50, and Cameron, 45, appeared to enjoy each other's company, and also exchanged gifts. The Obamas gave the Camerons a wood- and charcoal-burning grill engraved with American and British friendship flags, complete with his-and-her White House chef jackets embroidered with the Camerons' names.

First Lady Michelle Obama also gave Cameron's wife, Samantha, a crystal vase of White House honey. And the Cameron children got bean bag chairs embroidered with their names and the presidential seal.

The Camerons reciprocated by giving the Obamas a pingpong table.

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