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Obama says EU magnifies Britain’s global influence


US President Barack Obama   AFP / MANDEL NGAN

US President Barack Obama AFP / MANDEL NGAN

US President Barack Obama said Friday that Britain’s place in the EU magnifies its global influence, and its membership was a matter of “deep interest” to the United States.

Obama, who is in the UK for talks with Prime Minister David Cameron and a lunch with Queen Elizabeth II, the head of state, waded into the potentially poisonous debate ahead of Britain’s June 23 referendum on whether to remain in the European Union.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph newspaper, Obama said Britain being in the EU kept the 28-country bloc closely linked to the United States.

Britain voting to leave the EU would affect the prospects of Americans too, he said.

“The European Union doesn’t moderate British influence — it magnifies it. A strong Europe is not a threat to Britain’s global leadership; it enhances Britain’s global leadership,” Obama wrote.

“The United States sees how your powerful voice in Europe ensures that Europe takes a strong stance in the world, and keeps the EU open, outward looking, and closely linked to its allies on the other side of the Atlantic.

“So the US and the world need your outsized influence to continue — including within Europe.”

Obama has consistently said he favours a strong Britain in a strong EU.

Pro-Brexit supporters have issued calls for the Obama to stay out of the referendum debate and cast him as a meddling outsider.

But sovereign debt crises, jihadist terror attacks and Britain’s potential exit from the EU have thrust Europe up the US president’s agenda.

“I will say, with the candour of a friend, that the outcome of your decision is a matter of deep interest to the United States,” Obama wrote.

“The tens of thousands of Americans who rest in Europe’s cemeteries are a silent testament to just how intertwined our prosperity and security truly are.

“And the path you choose now will echo in the prospects of today’s generation of Americans as well.”

Obama touched down in Britain late Thursday for what is likely to be his final presidential visit to the kingdom.

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