Obama in London for talks with UK leaders
The two discussed foreign policy issues and the "special relationship" between Britain and America during two hours of talks inside 10 Downing Street, the prime minister's London residence.
The pair made the most of the sunshine by sitting outside on the patio, even taking a stroll toward adjacent St. James's Park -- much to the surprise of nearby tourists.
"The prime minister's emphasis, like mine, is on how we can strengthen the transatlantic relationship to solve problems that can't be solved by any single country individually," Obama told reporters outside Downing Street after the meeting.
Those problems, Obama said, include climate change, international terrorism and turmoil in world financial markets. Obama and Brown also discussed cooperation in resolving the problems in the Middle East and burden-sharing in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"It was a spectacular day and I'm glad to be here," Obama said.
Earlier, Obama met with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who now serves as the Middle East envoy for the "quartet" of the United States, the European Union, Russia, and the United Nations.
Following his meeting with Brown, Obama met with opposition leader David Cameron, head of the Conservative Party, before heading back to the United States.
Obama's trip has taken him through the Middle East and Europe, starting with Afghanistan, Iraq, Jordan, Israel and the West Bank and finishing with Germany, France and Britain.
Though Obama joked with the British press that London was the highlight for him, his trip has includedseveral other moments that have garnered positive international headlines -- most recently a Friday news conference in Paris with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and a speech in Berlin on Thursday to some 200,000 people.
The Democratic candidate admitted his ratings may have slipped in the United States since he's been away, as Americans focus more on domestic problems like gas prices and home foreclosures than on his travels abroad. But he said he still considers the trip important.
"The reason that I thought this trip was important is that I am convinced that many of the issues that we face at home are not going to be solved as effectively unless we have strong partners abroad and unless we get a handle on Iraq and Afghanistan," Obama said.
The military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said, are costing America money that could be better spent on rebuilding the U.S. economy.
"This was important for me not only to try to highlight or amplify how the international situation affects our economy back home, but also hopefully to give people at home and also leaders abroad some sense of where an Obama administration might take our foreign policy," he said. Video Watch Obama's complete interview with CNN's Candy Crowley »
Obama's staff has repeatedly said the tour is not political and not intended as a campaign trip, although Obama's meetings with troops and world leaders were designed to boost his foreign policy credentials and help voters back home envision him as commander-in-chief.
The warm atmosphere in Paris -- where Sarkozy repeatedly called Obama a friend -- continued in London, and not just because of the warm summer temperatures that finally settled on the British capital this week. Video Watch France's obsession with Obama. »
Obama and Brown were shown laughing and smiling as they walked together, and Obama reiterated to reporters that the special relationship between Britain and America continues.
"I think there's a deep and abiding affection for the British people in America and a fascination with all things British that is not going to go away any time soon," Obama said.
He countered criticism from his rival, Republican John McCain, for abruptly canceling a visit to see U.S. troops stationed in Germany as he traveled through the country this week. An Obama spokesman initially said it was deemed "inappropriate" to meet with the troops, to which a McCain spokesman said it should never be inappropriate. Video Watch McCain criticize Obama »
The Democrat explained he canceled the visit out of concern it would be perceived as a campaign opportunity.
"That triggered, then, a concern that maybe our visit was going to be perceived as politics," he said. "The last thing that I want to do is have injured soldiers and the staff at these wonderful institutions having to sort through whether this is political or not."
Britain was a low-key stop on Obama's itinerary, in part because no major events were planned. Brown also decided not to greet the U.S. senator on the doorstep of 10 Downing Street because he didn't grant the same honor to McCain when the Republican visited in March.
That protocol comes at a difficult time politically for the British prime minister, who could have benefited from a photo opportunity with a man so hugely popular in Europe. Brown's Labor Party lost a local election this week in what had been considered safe territory for the party, adding to existing political woes for Brown and raising questions about his future as prime minister.
Asked by a British reporter whether he had any advice for Brown, Obama said no -- but he said elected officials must always be prepared to deal with a fickle public.
"You're always more popular before you're actually in charge of things and then, once you're responsible, then you're going to make some people unhappy. That's just the nature of politics," he said. "Even during the course of this campaign, there have been months when I'm (considered) a genius and there are months when I'm (considered) an idiot.