Obama, Cameron United on Middle East, Afghanistan

Posted March 14, 2012 at 1:18pm

President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron vowed at a joint press conference to see the war in Afghanistan through to the end, while urging Iran to return to the negotiating table on its nuclear program or “face the consequences.”

Alternately chummy and serious in the White House Rose Garden, the two leaders presented a unified front on Afghanistan and Iran, and both said now is not the time for military intervention in Syria.

Obama warned Iran “the window for solving this issue diplomatically is shrinking” and said the message is “meet your international obligations or face the consequences.”

He added, “We will do everything we can to solve this issue diplomatically, but we’ve got to have somebody on the other side of the table.”

The two leaders said progress is being made in Afghanistan, although Obama said he understood that the public is weary of war after more than a decade. Still, he said, “We are going to complete this mission, and we are going to do it responsibly.”

“We have to keep reminding ourselves why we are there,” Cameron said, citing the terrorist attacks that were plotted in that country. “We will not give up on this mission because Afghanistan must never again be a safe haven for al-Qaida to launch attacks against us.”

On Syria, Obama said the continuing crackdown on protesters and armed rebels by the regime is not analogous to Libya, noting that the situation is more complicated. Both agreed that now is not the time for military intervention in Syria.

“What we want is the quickest way to stop the killing,” Cameron said. “That is through transition rather than revolution or civil war. But if [President Bashar al-] Assad continues, then civil war or revolution is the inevitable consequence.”