at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Washington - United States President Barack Obama on Thursday voiced “utmost confidence” in Britain's ability to ensure security around the Olympic Games a day before the official opening ceremony in London.
Obama's top counterterrorism advisor, John Brennan, met on Thursday with “the full counterterrorism and law enforcement community to take stock of our efforts working with the United Kingdom to prepare for the London 2012 Olympic Games”, said White House spokesperson Jay Carney.
Brennan then briefed Obama to give him an update on the Olympics and detail US support to the British during the Games which last until August 12.
“The president directed that we continue to ensure that we are doing everything possible to keep the American people safe and to continue close cooperation with our British counterparts,” Carney said.
“In keeping with our special relationship, the president also made it clear that he has the utmost confidence in our close friend and ally, the United Kingdom, as they finalise preparations to host the London Olympics.”
Asked later, Carney denied this remark was intended as a swipe at Republican White House hopeful Mitt Romney who ran into controversy as soon as he arrived in London Wednesday to attend the Games.
Within hours of landing, NBC television broadcast an interview in which Romney said it was “hard to know just how well” the Olympics will turn out and said there were “a few things that were disconcerting”.
He even questioned the British Olympic spirit, adding: “Do they come together and celebrate the Olympic moment? That's something which we only find out once the Games actually begin.”
The British press poured scorn on Romney's comments.
“Mitt Romney is perhaps the only politician who could start a trip that was supposed to be a charm offensive by being utterly devoid of charm and mildly offensive,” the right-leaning Daily Telegraph said.
The tabloid Daily Mail was more forthright demanding: “Who invited him?”
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has meanwhile urged the International Olympic Committee to support calls for a minute's silence to mark the 40th anniversary of the killing of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich games.
“They have unfortunately not yet made a decision on this in a way that would reflect what the secretary was asking for in her letter,” State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told journalists.
“But we are continuing to talk to them and to the British government about an appropriate way to commemorate this anniversary.”
Nuland added the number of staff at the US embassy in London had been boosted by up to 35 percent to provide help for any Americans in Britain for the event. A special hotline has also been set up. - Sapa-AFP