UK, U.S. launch joint national security body - source

LONDON Mon May 23, 2011 10:31pm IST

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LONDON (Reuters) - Britain and the United States are to create a new joint forum to assess long-term threats to their national security, a British government source said on Monday.

The launch of the new national security strategy board is expected to be announced during U.S. President Barack Obama's state visit to Britain, starting on Tuesday.

"The U.S. and UK already work closely together on many national security issues. The new board will allow us to look ahead and develop a shared view of emerging challenges, how we should deal with them, and how our current policy can adapt to longer-term developments," the government source said.

"Sharing the knowledge and insights of the experts in London and Washington will help both governments look ahead in an increasingly complex and fast-moving world," the source said.

The new board will bring together senior foreign and defence policy officials from London and Washington. It will be headed by the U.S. and British national security advisers, respectively Tom Donilon and Peter Ricketts.

British officials did not say what had prompted the new joint body, but Western governments were taken by surprise by the uprisings that have swept the Arab world.

Their initial response to the Libyan crisis was confused with the Obama administration initially sceptical about supporting the no-fly zone backed by Brtain and France.

British Prime Minister David Cameron set up a U.S.-style National Security Council soon after winning last year's general election, to discuss issues such as the Afghanistan war and the threat of terror attacks in Britain.

The British have also given high priority to combatting cyber attacks.

(Reporting by Adrian Croft; Editing by Paul Taylor)

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