UK press up in arms over Obama comments

The UK media has accused US President Barack Obama of launching an unprecedented attack on British Prime Minister David Cameron over Libya.

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In the interview with The Atlantic, Obama faults Cameron and other allies for shortcomings in dealing with Libya after the 2011 ouster of longtime dictator Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

The Times newspaper said Obama’s criticism was “extraordinary” and The Independent front page headline says “Obama savages Cameron over Libya.”

In the interview, Obama said Cameron had been “distracted” by other issues after Muammar Gaddafi’s fall.

Libya has since descended into lawlessness and become a haven for Islamic State extremists.

White House officials have tried to squelch the controversy by telling the BBC that the United States values Britain’s contributions. The two countries have long been close allies.

The Times newspaper said Obama’s criticism was “extraordinary” and said Obama was blaming Cameron for the “Libya mess.”

The Independent front page headline says “Obama savages Cameron over Libya.”

In the magazine interview, Obama said Cameron had been “distracted” by other issues after Gaddafi’s fall.

Britain and other European nations had joined the US in military action there to prevent a massacre of civilians. Obama told the magazine he had expected European nations to take a more active role in helping Libya during its reconstruction.

“When I go back and I ask myself what went wrong there’s room for criticism, because I had more faith in the Europeans, given Libya’s proximity, being invested in the follow-up,” he said.

Libya has since descended into chaos and emerged as a potential safe haven for Islamic State extremists.

US officials have tried to squelch the controversy by telling British media that the United States places a high priority on Britain’s support.

“Prime Minister Cameron has been as close a partner as the president has had, and we deeply value the UK’s contributions on our shared national security and foreign policy objectives which reflect our special and essential relationship,” spokesman Edward Price told ITV News.

The two countries have long been close allies with a so-called “special relationship” exemplified by the close cooperation between Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt during World War II.