Britons Hope Obama Can Strengthen Ties with U.K.

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LONDON -- On Tuesday, President Barack Obama and the first lady will visit Britain, where they will meet with Prime Minister David Cameron and Queen Elizabeth II.

The British government is stepping up security ahead of Obama's first state visit to the United Kingdom, fearing retaliatory attacks by radical Muslims for the killing of Osama bin Laden.

Britain is one of America's strongest allies in the war on terror, but the question on the minds of many Britons is, what has Obama done to strengthen relations between America and Britain?

"I'm not that much into the politics stuff. But I don't feel that there is a great relationship that's been bonded between England and Obama," one London resident said.

"Since Barack Obama came to power, to be honest, I don't think we've had much to do with America since with the Iraq War and everything. And I think him coming over is going to be a good chance for us to start strengthening the relations again with America that we had," another Londoner told CBN News.

The British media says Obama's actions suggest he does not value Great Britain. He really stirred the waters when he returned a bust of Winston Churchill that sat in the White House for years.

Some suggest the president has a personal grudge against the U.K. Obama claims his grandfather was ­tortured by the British ­during the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya.

However, not everyone believes Obama bears ill will towards the U.K. R. David Muir from the London-based group Faith in Politics remains very positive about the president's efforts to keep the special relationship between the two countries alive.

"Back in 2010, Obama had made it clear when he was with David Cameron when he was in Washington was that the relationship between the two countries was a very, very special one," Muir said. "And of course with the state visit coming up shortly that will actually strengthen this relationship."

"And one must not forget that our troops and American troops are working and dying in Afghanistan at the moment and those are very special ties," he added.

Of course, Britons and Americans share a common heritage, including the Christian faith. Muir says Christians in the U.K. are concerned that Obama will live up to his promises to bring about peace.

"Well, I think Obama always made it quite clear that he wanted to create a new world order -- something along the lines of peace, justice and prosperity," he explained. "I think Christians in this country will always be concerned that the president uses his enormous power to promote peace and stop war worldwide."

However, the British public seems to have mixed views about America as a nation since Obama came to power.

"I think he's done really well," one person said. "I think he's done a good job, getting rid of bin Laden for a start."

"His healthcare reforms -- he fought a brave battle there. He's shied away from closing off the economy in some of the ways right-wingers would like to do. He's not engaging in protectionism," another person said.

Others were less than enthusiastic about the president's track record.

"I don't think he's done a lot. The only good thing he's done was the Osama bin Laden situation. But I don't think he's done a lot. I haven't seen any changes," another Briton told CBN News.

So as people on the streets of London remain unsure of how the U.S. and the U.K. relations will continue, whether Obama's three-day visit captures the hearts and minds of the nation remains to be seen.

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Peter Wooding

Peter Wooding

CBN News U.K. Correspondent

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