Obama says EU membership empowers UK, but emotional bond secure

LONDON: US President Barack Obama said Britain´s membership of the European Union empowers one of the United States´ best friends, adding that the emotional bond between the two countries would still endure even if Britain left the European Union.


“If one of our best friends is in an organisation that enhances their influence and enhances their power and enhances their economy, then I want them to stay in it,” Obama said at a news conference longside Prime Minister David Cameron.

“Or at least I want to be able to tell them: ´I think this makes you guys bigger players.´”

‘Negotiations only solution to Syria’

President Barack Obama said the Syrian crisis cannot be solved without political negotiations and that required dealing with people he deeply disagrees with.

“We are not going to solve the overall problem unless we can get this political track moving,” he said.

He said he has always been skeptical about Russian President Vladimir Putin´s actions and motives in Syria and that Russia will recognise that the Syrian problem cannot be solved by military means.

‘Migration threatens EU unity, could hurt US’

The US president also said that European unity was under strain from the flows of migrants pouring into the region and the United States could also suffer economically and strategically as a result.

“I wouldn´t describe European unity as in a crisis but I would say it is under strain,” Obama told the joint news conference .

“We consider a major national security issue that you have uncontrolled migration into Europe, not because these folks are coming to the United States but because if it destabilizes Europe, our largest …trading partner, it´s going to be bad for our economy,” he said.

“If you start seeing divisions in Europe, that weakens NATO, that will have an impact on our collective security,” he told the news conference.

Obama also said Britain should remain in the EU when it votes in a membership referendum in June to avoid weakening the bloc.

Cameron said he and Obama discussed the possibility of involving the NATO military alliance to help EU efforts to stop the flow of migrants in the central Mediterranean area, something NATO is already doing in the eastern Mediterranean.