Budgets And BP on Agenda For Cameron U.S. Visit

The British prime minister, David Cameron, arrived at the White House Tuesday morning for a visit with President Obama that is expected to be dominated by discussions of the economic recovery, BP’S oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and new scrutiny of the company’s role in lobbying for a prisoner-transfer agreement between Libya and Britain that preceded the release of the convicted Lockerbie bomber. The prime minister called the release of the bomber from a Scottish prison last year “profoundly misguided” in a radio interview on Tuesday morning but said it was a government decision, not one made by the battered oil giant BP. Mr. Cameron, who 10 weeks after taking office is making his first visit to the United States as prime minister, also sought to wave away another potentially major source of disagreement: the strikingly different approaches the two men are taking to budget-cutting at a time of a fragile economic recovery. The fledgling coalition government that Mr. Cameron leads has called for budget reductions of 25 percent by every British government department — cuts that, as an NPR interviewer pointed Tuesday morning, some commentators were calling “savage.” That approach has also placed the Cameron government at odds with the Obama administration, which fears that deep spending cuts now could knock the underpinnings out from the tentative recovery now under way. Mr. Cameron told the interviewer that while it was vital for Britain to act to maintain investor confidence, his difference with Mr. Obama was really one of timing. “We’re not a reserve currency, we’re not the United States of America — we can’t take our time with this,” Mr. Cameron said. Of financial measures, he said that the United States and Britain “see it in the same way, which is that every country has to deal with its budget deficit, but the time at which we do it can vary.”