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Barack Obama in London; Ash Cloud Causes Chaos; History of "Essential Relationship" Between UK and US. Netanyahu Addresses Congress. Human Error in Air France 447 Crash? Mubarak and Sons Charged in Egypt. More US Storms Possible. What Do Afghans and Pakistanis Want From US and Britain? Traveling With the President.

Aired May 24, 2011 - 16:00:00   ET


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST, "CONNECT THE WORLD": I'm Becky Anderson at Buckingham Palace, where behind me, U.S. President Barack Obama is a guest of honor at a state banquet.

But away from the pomp and ceremony, the bombing of Libya could be the first test for a special relationship now being rebranded as essential.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Max Foster in the London studio, where we're keeping a close eye on the ash cloud and whether it's going to keep you from getting off the ground.

These stories and more tonight, as we connect the world.

ANDERSON: Well, a very good evening from Buckingham Palace in London, where U.S. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama have arrived for a state dinner given by the queen in their honor. Tonight's festivities are just getting underway, capping off a whirlwind day of pomp and circumstance in the British capital. Just moments ago, the president and the queen each offered a toast, paying homage to the long relationship between their countries.

Well, it has been a busy day for the Obamas. Their state visit officially began this morning at Buckingham Palace, where they were greeted by the queen and her husband, Prince Philip. They also met with Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, along with the newly we'd couple, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

On the Buckingham Palace lawn, British soldiers played the American national anthem and then performed a 41 gun salute. And later, Mr. Obama and the first lady took a tour of Westminster Abbey and then laid a wreath at the grave of the Unknown Warrior. And in the afternoon, a meeting at Number Ten Downing Street with British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Now, the two leaders even made time for a friendly game of ping pong with a couple of students in London.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Don't -- don't laugh at the prime minister.

ANDERSON: Well, sort of a game of anyway. CNN...


ANDERSON: -- CNN's senior White House correspondent, Ed Henry, traveled to London with the U.S. president and now joins me live.

ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I'm not sure the prime minister got enough practice in.

ANDERSON: David Cameron is rubbish.

A right royal welcome here. And you would have expected that, of course. And very much a ceremonial day today.

HENRY: Absolutely. You know, there was so much international tittering (ph) a couple of years ago when Michelle Obama touched the queen. And people were, oh, you can't do that. And it broke protocol. And yet the queen seemed to response affectionately and wasn't the least bit upset.

And I think we saw that play out today, how much -- in the toasts, they were very warm. We spoke to a palace official earlier today who said there's a genuine spirit back and forth here, and they tried to show that.

It's very rare. This queen has only had two U.S. presidents here for state visits, former President George W. Bush and now President Obama.

And I think also what's interesting is how -- how much detail goes into all of this.


HENRY: You know, one royals expert was telling us earlier today, they actually have someone with a measuring tape that measures how far apart the wine glasses are for the state dinner.


HENRY: I'm normally nervous about which roll to eat, whether it's on the left or right.


HENRY: I would just be -- I would be out of my mind if I had to deal with how far apart are the wine glasses. And, you know, tonight, the Obamas are going to be sleeping here at Buckingham Palace in the suite that William and Kate used on their wedding night. So...

ANDERSON: A little fact for you, if ever there was one.

HENRY: Exactly.

ANDERSON: The supper has just started, the -- the state dinner tonight. Just before that, of course, we had a toast by the queen and by the U.S. president.

Let's have a listen to what he said.


OBAMA: To Her Majesty, the queen, to the vitality of the special relationship between our peoples and, in the words of Shakespeare, to this blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England, to the queen.


ANDERSON: And they will be tucking into, we are told, sole, lamb and various other things on the menu.

Listen, this has been a relationship that, at least Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron, have upgraded from a special relationship to an essential one -- but, Ed, is it still a special relationship?

HENRY: It is. But I think part of this is both of them trying to convince the world, hey, we really get along here. This is -- there has not been the same kind of warmth between these two leaders that we saw, for example, that Tony Blair had with both a Democrat and a Republican in Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

And so I think that's what that ping pong game was all about, like, look, we're both human beings here. You know, Barack Obama is accused of being too chilly, professorial. David Cameron, he hasn't connected and all that.

So they're out there and they're whiffing at the ping pong ball. It didn't look like, as we said, the prime minister had such a great day. At one point, though, when he had a good shot, Barack Obama gave him sort of a high five. I mean they're try -- they're trying here is the point.


HENRY: And -- and what White House officials are saying is that in this bilateral, tomorrow, in his speech to parliament, President Obama is going to say that it is special and essential because both countries have been through a lot together over the last decade. I mean the divisiveness of the Iraq War. They've had tough moments with Afghanistan and with the international financial crisis, as well.

But the president the president is going to try to make tomorrow, through all of these events, is we're turning the corner now together. If you look at the battle against al Qaeda, for example, just in the last couple of weeks, Osama bin Laden being killed, the international -- you know, the global recession is still stubborn. It's still difficult for both of these countries.

But they feel inside the White House -- and I expect at Ten Downing, that they're starting to turn the corner. And I think maybe that will help bring them together.

ANDERSON: All right, Ed Henry.

He's traveling, of course, with the president, our White House correspondent here in London with us this evening.

We're going to do a lot more on this relationship as we move through this hour.

The U.S. and British leaders say their essential relationship can be a powerful catalyst for change, citing the international mission in Libya, for example. Yet despite a two month old bombing campaign, the conflict there drags on. So NATO is turning up the heat. A loud explosion rocked Tripoli earlier today as NATO warplanes unleashed their heaviest bombardment of the Libyan capital to date. They're trying to deliver a decisive blow to Moammar Gadhafi's regime.

I want to take you to Tripoli now and to Nima Elbagir for more -- and, Nima, described by some as a bombing blitz. It seems NATO is determined to make its presence felt.

Who or what was the target today?

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it started about 1:00 a.m. local time, Becky. And it really is the most intense we have seen so far. Within half an hour, we counted over a dozen explosions right close to our hotel, very close to the Gadhafi-Bab al-Aziziyah compound. NATO says that the target was a vehicle storage facility that had been used in providing vehicles as they've been carrying out attacks on civilians.

The Libyan authorities say that it's a Libyan Auxiliary Force center that had been emptied out because they were expecting it to be hit. But because it is still in a residential area, nonetheless, they said, 150 people were injured and three people were killed.

This comes, of course, Becky, as the president is seeking Congressional backing for the continued U.S. presence, although the U.S. no longer has the lead in this NATO operation. They -- there are still two U.N. -- two U.S. Predator drones that are involved and hitting targets.

And there did seem to be a sense that they wanted to show the U.S. Congress and the world, indeed, that they were -- you know, that the end was in sight, that they were sending -- they are at the point now where they are sending decisive messages -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Yes, and Libya is obviously going to be a point of discussion for the U.S. president and the British leader when he talks to David Cameron tomorrow and, indeed, to the two houses of parliament.

Nima, when you talk to people in Tripoli, who do they think is conducting this bombing?

Who do they think are the biggest supporters of NATO?

Is it -- is the U.S. -- are they big fans, for example, of -- of the U.S. in Tripoli these days?

ELBAGIR: Well, most interestingly, the name we've been hearing the most is actually President Sarkozy. Whenever there has been anti-NATO demonstrations, it's been his name that's been chanted first and foremost, I think, because France was the first nation off the ground on this. It's almost like they expect the U.S. and Obama to be their enemies, but they were kind of -- slightly, perhaps, blind-sided by Sarkozy. Not a lot of mention of David Cameron, I have to tell you.

But the sense seems to be that the U.S. is always -- I mean these are just in casual conversations, of course -- the U.S. has always been about the resources here in Libya. It seems that Sarkozy is -- is kind of new on their list of enemies here -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Nima Elbagir for you in Tripoli this evening.

Nima, thank you for that.

Well, as NATO uses bombs to deliver a message to Gadhafi, Western diplomats are offering new support to his enemies, meeting with Libyan rebel leaders. Now, the European Union's foreign policy chief opened an office Monday in the rebel stronghold of beginning. Catherine Ashton declared the EU's long-term support for what's known as the Transitional National Council. A day later, a top U.S. official delivered this invitation from Washington.


JEFFREY FELTMAN, U.S. ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE, NEAR EAST AFFAIRS: In order to increase ties between the Transitional National Council and the United States, I delivered, on behalf of President Obama, a formal invitation for the Council to establish a representative office in Washington, DC. This step marks an important milestone in our relationship with the Transitional National Council and we are pleased that they have accepted the offer.


ANDERSON: All right, well, the rebels may have accepted that offer, but they are still pressing for something that neither the U.S. nor Britain have granted them so far, and that is full and formal recognition as Libya's legitimate governing authority. Here's why that distinction matters.


SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Sara Sidner in the rebel stronghold, Benghazi, Libya.

The rebel formed National Transition Council is looking for official recognition as a governing body that represents the Libyan people. The leaders of that Council have traveled to the U.S., to the U.K., to Italy, to Qatar, to speak with leaders there, hoping to get that recognition.

Why do they want it?

Because they believe it will open the door so that the Council can get funds, perhaps guns and training. They say they will run out of funds in the next two to three weeks.


ANDERSON: Sara Sidner there in Benghazi.

Well, Ed Henry, the White House correspondent, with me here, who is, of course, with Obama on this trip. The Obamas behind us tucking into their state dinner this evening as we talk.

You saw Sara's report there talking about the rebels and their absolute need for recognition at this point. They haven't got that exactly from the States yet.


HENRY: They have not. Because the White House is trying to be very careful not to fully back them. And that's frustrated some people around the world. You've had one of the rebel leaders at the White House, but didn't meet with President Obama. Met with one of his top aides.

They've been trying to insulate the president so it doesn't look like it's the West imposing this, even though, let's face it, the West has been involved in the NATO bombing campaign and trying to force out Gadhafi and get the rebels into power.

One new strategy that is emerging in Washington that the White House is trying to get behind is there's a movement in the U.S. Congress to take some of Gadhafi's seized assets and give that money to the rebels, so they can buy weapons and -- and other things.

So that's something to keep an eye on.

ANDERSON: This is a trip overshadowed by concerns over the stalemate, of course, in Libya; the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan -- that's, of course, coming up; and deepening tensions between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

How much work needs to be done?

We've talked about this special relationship -- we talked about it in the beginning of the -- of the hour.

How much work needs to be done by Obama to convince people here on this trip to Europe that he is really on board?

HENRY: Well, I think both leaders have a lot of work to do to build some trust. They can talk all they want about an essential relationship and it's -- it's there. It was there before they both came to power. It will be there long after, I assume, they both leave power.

But as long as they're here, there are still these big, big issues to deal with.

On Afghanistan, there's a feeling inside the White House that Prime Minister Cameron has been a little too eager to get his own troops out, number one. And on the other side, as you say, on Libya, there's a real frustration what with Prime Minister Cameron and President Sarkozy in France, which is this president's next stop after he's in the U.K., that the U.S. was in such a rush to the door in Libya and maybe that's part of the reason why we have the stalemate, that the U.S. wanted to provide a lot of bombardment, a lot of air power and assault at the beginning, but then wanted to get out so it didn't look like they were in yet another quagmire.

And as a result, maybe we are in a little bit of a quagmire, because there is a a stalemate. Maybe not a full quagmire yet, but a stalemate.

And so the bottom line is I think we're going to see in this bilateral -- they won't necessarily do it in public, but in prevent, there will be some not so subtle pressure from the Cameron side to Mr. Obama to say, look, the U.S. needs to step up here.

ANDERSON: Ed Henry, always a pleasure.

HENRY: Great seeing you.

ANDERSON: Thank you.

You're with a special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD live from just outside Buckingham Palace, where the U.S. president and the first lady are spending the night, not before their supper, though. This after Barack Obama and Britain's prime minister speak of the importance of a more committed relationship.

Award-winning historian and author, Simon Schama, talks about the upgrade later this hour for you.

Then, tackling insurgency in Afghanistan -- a look at Washington and London's commitment to training Afghan security forces.

Ahead of all of that, travelers are under a cloud again -- volcanic ash is creating new chaos. We're going to show you where that cloud is headed.

You're watching a special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD live from London.

Stay with us.


FOSTER: Travelers' plans are turning to ash. Chaos has escalated as airlines and airports across Europe nervously watch the volcanic ash cloud out of Iceland. Parts of Germany may get stuck with a flight ban over the next several hours. And in Britain, the spewing ash from Europe's most active volcano could affect all of the U.K. by Wednesday morning.

Around 500 U.K. flights had to be canceled on Tuesday.

You know the drill -- check with your airline before you travel.

Now, for more on what's delayed and for how long, let's turn now to CNN's Phil Black in our London newsroom -- Phil, it's moving all the time, isn't it?

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is, indeed, Max, yes. But certainly it was Scotland and parts of Northern England that were hardest hit today. They bore the brunt of it. As you say, 500 flights out of or into those regions were canceled today. The region's biggest airports -- Edinburgh, Glasgow, New Castle, they were all affected. A long list of airlines had to council flights -- British Airways, BMI, Ryanair, easyJet among others.

What happens from here, though, depends on where that concentrated section of the ash cloud moves to. And under the current forecast, we've already heard from British Airways and BMI. They both hope to offer regular services tomorrow -- all their regular services tomorrow. That means that that ash cloud, they hope, is going to be moving somewhere else. So that same forecast includes warnings now for parts of Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and, as you say, Germany.

While it means, at this stage, that it looks like London's Heathrow won't be affected, it is all moving constantly. Charting the progress of that ash cloud is an ongoing situation.

So as you say, the good advice is to check with your airline.

FOSTER: Yes, Heathrow important, of course, because last year's ash cloud saw travelers stranded all over the world, weren't they?

And that's because of airports like Heathrow.

They're hubs, aren't they?

Are we seeing the same kind of effect this time around?

BLACK: It was a common image last year, wasn't it?

You saw people sleeping or even living in airports for days at a time as they were stranded across wide sections of -- of Europe. We've seen similar -- scenes similar to that in some of the Scottish airports today. But this isn't just a Scottish situation predominantly, because it was people trying to get back home to Scotland who were also stranded.

We tracked down a few of them today, chatted to them on Skype.

Take a listen to their stories.


KASH: Oh, it's been mental. I -- I'm now in the Hahn Airport. I've been now almost 36 hours on the move. I arrived at Hahn late last night because my flight from Oslo to Edinburgh got canceled because of bad weather in Edinburgh. So now I'm in Hahn Airport and my flight to Edinburgh has just been canceled one hour ago because of the ash cloud. So I've been told I could go on a 6:00 flight to Stansted. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the flight will take off and I will get to Stansted. And at Stansted, there is a fantastic 12 hour bus journey that waits me, which I -- I call the -- the coach of death, because it -- it drives you through every service station in Britain. And hopefully, I'll be reaching Edinburgh at 8:00 in the morning. So fingers crossed. We'll see what happens.



KAREN BRYAN: I'm in Malta, trying to get back to Edinburgh. My flight has been canceled because of the ash cloud and basically I'm not sure when I'll get back, because my rebooking of the Ryanair flight (INAUDIBLE) can find (INAUDIBLE) ash cloud will have disappeared by (INAUDIBLE).

It's bad to (INAUDIBLE) what's happening, being on standby and then not knowing when (INAUDIBLE).


FOSTER: It always happens with these airline stories, doesn't it?

But last -- I know that last year, all these airlines were really criticizing this blanket ban as overreaction from the air traffic controllers.

What sort of reaction are we having from the airlines this time around?

BLACK: One of the things they were -- the airlines were the most critical of last time, Max, was the modeling that -- that are used -- the computer modeling that's used to forecast the movement, the size, just how thick the ash cloud is at any given point in time.

They made it pretty clear they simply don't trust it, don't think it's accurate.

Today, one of the most skeptical airlines from that time, Ryanair, the Irish airline, took a test flight over Scotland through the so-called "red zone" where the ash was said to be so concentrated that passenger flights couldn't fly carrying passengers.

It says that it found no ash whatsoever. It got back on the ground and said there was no ash on the plane, in the engines. And so its chief executive has had some very strong words today for the British regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority and the U.K. Met Office, which comes up with those forecasts.

He spoke to CNN's Richard Quest a little earlier today.

Take a listen.


MICHAEL O'LEARY, CEO, RYANAIR: The U.K. Met Office and the CAA have failed to implement the greed procedures which are followed in every other area of volcanic ash eruptions. And that's why the Scottish airport has been closed today. It's not volcanic ash, it's bureaucratic incompetence.


BLACK: So, one year on, what havely -- what have we learned?

Well, the rules aren't as strict as they were a year ago, so you've got aircraft flying in conditions they weren't allowed to fly in back then. That means fewer passengers are certainly being affected, which is good.

But you can see from Michael O'Leary's comments there that there is still some difference between the regulators and the airlines over whether this is the correct reaction to this event or still, perhaps, an overreaction -- Max.

FOSTER: Phil, thank you very much, indeed.

The million dollar question, where is this ash cloud heading?

With an all important look at wind conditions, we bring in Guillermo at the CNN International Weather Center -- Guillermo, it can change so quickly, can't it?

GUILLERMO ARDUINO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. I think that there are two or three elements that we must take into account.

First of all, we have three degrees of concentration of ash -- low, medium and high. Medium is at the discretion of the airline. Low it's fine. Everybody can go through. And high concentration, it depends on each country.

So at the same time, it -- it wouldn't be recommended for anybody to go through high and it would be closed off. But the authorities are going to make that call.

Secondly, now we're going on air with a 24-hour forecast period. And this is the last updated map that we have. You see that it extends a little bit into Germany now, parts of Greenland and parts of North America, too, in Canada.

So we have to take it one day at a time.

This is, again, the official forecast with the three degrees of concentration. So, look, Germany, parts of Denmark is where we still see some problems. In Iceland, certainly, of course. And then low concentrations even in London. But, again, low is fine to fly through or at the discretion of the authorities and the airline.

So Germany is going to be impacted within 24 hours. You're going to hear that tomorrow. You're going to hear that, oh, near Berlin, there are some question marks. We will see what the decision is. But the important thing to remember is that we do it one day at a time because of this.

And because of something else we need to understand -- altitude. In this case, I'm going to show you how a plane goes at cruising level, which is 39,000 or 33,000 or 30,000 feet. And the plume usually goes across that area and then it gets dissipated or moved away, in this case, at 50,000 feet.

So you would say well, no problem, because cruising altitude is 39,000 feet. Well, but we have the wind factor. And that's what is uncertain, where it's changing a little bit. So we put together this image coming from authorities in -- in Europe that has both the weather systems and the volcanic ash.

So I want you to look at it very clearly and very carefully, especially in light of what Ryanair was saying. Volcanish -- volcanic ash here is mixing with the weather systems and it's being dragged into the northern parts of Scotland. And you see it in this case at both levels, high and low. So it certainly happened in the previous hours and we have seen evidence of ash in Scotland and in Scottish air space.

The winds are erratic. We need to know what's going to happen. At lower levels, it's more compromising. At higher levels, it looks good so far.

FOSTER: OK, Guillermo.

Thank you very much, indeed.

ARDUINO: You're welcome.

FOSTER: That is it from me here in the studio for now.

Right now, it's back to Becky, who's at the palace.

ANDERSON: Thank you very much, indeed, Max.

Lots more coming up on this special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD, including a relationship upgrade -- U.S. President Barack Obama and David Cameron, the British prime minister, reaffirm and ramp up their partnership. We'll be speaking to expert Simon Schama, history professor at the University of Colombia.

And one of the hot button issues -- troops serving in Afghanistan -- we're going to examine what the government there wants to see and hear from this visit.



HRM QUEEN ELIZABETH II, UNITED KINGDOM: It is unfortunate that there are so many troubles facing the world today. But we are encouraged that in most respects, our two countries see these problems in the same light.

For this reason, we have been able to act together in fields as varied as science, research, and higher education to find solutions or to at least make progress towards tackling so many of the social and economic difficulties that confront nations in all parts of the globe.


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Britain's Queen Elizabeth speaking at a state dinner for the US president just a short time ago.

You're back with CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN. I'm Becky Anderson at Buckingham Palace, where the state dinner is ongoing.

Coming up, he swaps a pint of Guinness for tea with the Queen. It's a busy week for President Obama. More on the state of what's now being called an "essential relationship." We're going to talk to expert Simon Schama, who's a history professor at the University of Columbia. That's coming up.

Plus, Afghanistan will be one of the many topics on the table for Obama and Cameron. What do the Afghans want? More on that this half hour.

Those stories are ahead. First, as ever, let's get you a quick check of the headlines this hour.

US president Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, are attending a state dinner in their honor at Buckingham Palace tonight. In the past hour, the president and Queen Elizabeth each offered toasts honoring the strong relationship between the two countries.

Earlier, Mr. Obama spent some time at Number 10 Downing Street talking with British prime minister David Cameron. Their unofficial agenda included Libya, the Arab uprisings, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Mr. Obama plans to speak in Parliament on Wednesday.

The ash cloud from the volcanic eruption in Iceland is spreading towards central Europe. Forecasters say it will reach Berlin in the coming hours and cover all of British air space by early Wednesday. Experts say the eruption is already past its peak.

And speaking the US Congress, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu laid out what Israel is and is not willing to do to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians. He said Israel was being generous in offering land for a Palestinian state, but it won't revert to pre-1967 borders or split Jerusalem.

Prosecutors in Egypt say ousted president Hosni Mubarak and his two sons will be tried in a criminal court in connection with the killings of protesters during January's uprising. The Mubaraks also face charges of corruption.

And those are your headlines this hour.

Well, the US president and British prime minister David Cameron have re-named the special relationship between their two countries. It's been upgraded to an "essential relationship," one that is not just vital for Britain and America, but also, they say, for the rest of the world.

In a joint article written by the two leaders in the "Times" newspaper, they put their ties at the heart of the drive for global stability. I quote, "When the United States and Britain stand together, our people and people around the world" --

With Libya, Afghanistan, Israel, Palestine, the Arab Spring, and Iran's nuclear ambitions on the agenda, these are dramatic days for the special relationship. But how solid is it? Dan Rivers dives into the history books.


ANNOUNCER: That unity of purpose and of action, which has made victory possible and certain for the United Nations in this war.

DAN RIVERS, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The special relationship between Britain and the US will forever be associated with the close friendship between President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who knew his country's survival depended on American help.

NICHOLAS SOAMES, GRANDSON OF SIR WINSTON CHURCHILL: The relationship between my grandfather and Roosevelt was absolutely single-minded pursuit by my grandfather to persuade President Roosevelt to enter the war.

RIVERS (on camera): So, Churchill chose Ditchley House in Oxfordshire as a venue to convince the Americans to provide billions of dollars in military aid as a first step to them entering the war. So, in some senses, Ditchley was the crucible of the British-US special relationship.

RIVERS (voice-over): And at Ditchley, the legacy still endures today, hosting US secretaries of state and British foreign ministers in numerous conferences on bilateral issues.

Down the decades from Macmillan-Kennedy to Blair-Bush, the chemistry between the two leaders has sometimes been strong. But between President Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, it was at its zenith, able to withstand Thatcher's withering tirade over the US invasion of Grenada.

CHRISTOPHER MEYER, FORMER BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO THE US: Apparently, Reagan, as Thatcher was really whacking him down the line, Reagan picked up the phone, held it up in the air like that so people around him, like the US Secretary of State George Shultz could hear, and said "Ain't she marvelous?"

RIVERS: But even the Obama-Cameron cordial but cool relationship is still underpinned by a bedrock of intelligence sharing and military ties.

JAMIE RUBIN, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE: I don't think the British-American relationship crucially depends on the chemistry between the leaders, because the real relationship takes place between the peoples of the United States and Britain, between the intelligence services that are very, very much in sync.


RIVERS: President Clinton and Tony Blair also enjoyed a shared ideological vision, but again, it wasn't always buddy-buddy, as shown by Clinton's temper over Downing Street press briefings that the US was reluctant to commit ground troops to Kosovo.

MEYER: It taught Blair a few lessons on how you handle the White House and how you handle in particular Tony -- Bill Clinton. And that the simple existence of the phrase "special relationship" does not remove these difficulties.

RIVERS: It's all a long way from the weekends at Ditchley when Churchill spent day and night negotiating Anglo-American relations. But six decades after Churchill coined the phrase, that bond of the special relationship remains unbreakable. Dan Rivers, CNN, Ditchley, Oxfordshire.


ANDERSON: All right. Well, let's just explore this special, essential relationship a little more, now. Simon Schama joins us, professor of history at Columbia University.

I alluded, Simon, just earlier to an op-ed that was written in the "Times" scored by both the leaders. They went on to say, and I quote, "Despite being two leaders from two different political traditions, we see eye to eye." Do they?

SIMON SCHAMA, PROFESSOR OF HISTORY, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Well, I think it's very likely they do, Becky. I mean, they're from the same generation, they are both pragmatists in their way, even though they have very different views about how to deal with recovery from the recession.

Sometimes these bits of political chemistry can't quite be mathematically formulated. It doesn't happen until it happens.

What I'm reminded of, though, actually, in some of the remarks that are being made, essentially, is the bond that was weirdly formed between George Bush and Tony Blair after the period of 9/11, which was something about -- about something serious.

We're so used to the notion of a kind of democratic solidarity being a piece of pabulum but, actually, the content of democracy, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and so on, is now a blaze all around the world. And on that you would expect, as seems to be the case in Libya, David Cameron and Barack Obama to be eye to eye.

ANDERSON: I guess that begs the next question, which is simply this. How do we measure what we call this special, essential relationship?

SCHAMA: Well, you measure it in results, I suspect. And in this case, it'll be both are really staked, a big gamble, about the success of the operation in Libya. The ends of that operation has got to be for both David Cameron and for Barack Obama the removal of Moammar Gadhafi from power.

Anything less, has been said in print and -- in around the media quite correctly, will be -- any kind of stalemate is a victory for Moammar Gadhafi.

So, that's the first sign. If that actually can happen, that will get whatever there is of the special relationship off to a start.

There's something else, though, which is highlit, in a way, by Netanyahu's speech to Congress today and maybe eluded to. I don't know if Obama is going to talk about the Middle East tomorrow.

If there is to be any sort of serious negotiations, especially if they're going to happen in advance of the United Nation consideration of Palestinian sovereignty in the autumn, then a piece of the puzzle has got to be a rock solid America.

But it has to be really -- an America and NATO -- we can say an America and a British -- rock-solid commitment and guarantee to protect the integrity of whatever the Israeli frontiers may end up as. That is absolutely --

And also, to take on, as Netanyahu reasonably said, actually, in a rather unreasonable speech in some ways, but he was reasonable about saying we have to face up to the possibility of a nuclear armed Iran. We can't bury our heads in the sand. That's another possible Anglo-American position on which they can both agree.

ANDERSON: Yes, we're looking, Simon, as you speak, at a game of ping pong earlier on. There's a bit of bonding going on between the British prime minister and the American president. Sadly, I think the British prime minister came off quite badly in that game. Doesn't seem to be able to play at all.

Listen. Historically, I think, most of us would understand why this relationship has been so strong, given the two World Wars and what the States did post the second World War with the Marshall Plan.

But looking forward, would we be naive to think that this was a unique relationship, given the strength of the Chinas, of the Russias, of the Indias of this world and the importance for the States of going after a decent relationship with those countries?

SCHAMA: Yes, I -- we certainly would be deluding ourselves if we thought it was actually at the top -- no one does -- of Barack Obama's agenda.

But I would say that, actually, some of the moaning noises coming from Europe, and not particularly from Britain, to say, oh, this is a president who, unlike presidents in the past, particularly Bill Clinton, is indifferent to Europe and to Britain in particular, are sort of misplaced.

What is Barack Obama supposed to do to show his love, really? If he decides to make sententious noises about the economy and the difference that the two governments have or his concerns about the way the European Central Bank might or might not treat the issue of Greek indebtedness and the indebtedness of Portugal and Ireland, he would be accused of interventionism.

So, I think it's a mistake on the European or on the British side on the one hand to feel that if Barack Obama doesn't constantly present himself as a kind of loving companion of the special relationship, that it's not really there.

It's there when it counts. It has to count in Afghanistan, it has to count in Libya, it has to count, really, in the case of Middle Eastern settlement.

But above all, Becky, I'd say this, is that -- forget about FDR and Churchill for the moment. Essentially, the world is facing a really serious choice between the possibility of democracy rising in places where we don't expect it to rise, or the possibility of militant fundamentalist theocratic religious intimidation.

That is a real -- a genuine solidarity. It's a philosophical issue which has actual political content to it. So, it's not fake for the British and the Americans to stand shoulder to shoulder on that if they choose to.

However, I will say this to you, Becky --


ANDERSON: Always a pleasure, Simon Schama --

SCHAMA: -- a horrible lapse of protocol was committed. Did you catch the lapse of protocol at the dinner? Goodness. Barack Obama carried on talking through the national anthem, actually. I'm not sure we'll survive that.



ANDERSON: I thought -- I thought it was -- yes, I mean, it sounded good. I'm just not sure -- I think you're absolutely right, that I think it was against protocol, it certainly -- it sounded good, anyway.

All right, Simon Schama, always a pleasure with you here with us tonight.

Well, we're going to have more on the "essential relationship" ahead on the show. First, though, the Israeli prime minister addressed the US Congress. Benjamin Netanyahu was interrupted several times by standing ovations, but the Palestinians are not applauding. We'll tell you what he had to say, up next.


MAX FOSTER, HOST: Palestinians say the Israeli prime minster's address to Congress has added more obstacles on the road to Middle East peace. Benjamin Netanyahu told US lawmakers that Israel is willing to make painful concessions, including giving up some West Bank settlements.

But he said Israel will never return to borders that existed before the 1967 war. He also ruled out any Palestinian right to return to land inside Israel, and said the issue of Jerusalem is non-negotiable.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL: The only time that Jews, Christians, and Muslims could worship freely, could have unfettered access to their holy sites, has been during Israel's sovereignty over Jerusalem. Jerusalem must never again be divided.


FOSTER: Did human error contribute to the crash of Air France flight 447 in 2009? That question is being asked as investigators retrieve information from the plane's flight data recorders.

"The Wall Street Journal" says the pilots may have been confused by a series of alarms and then didn't follow standard procedures as they tried to assess the situation. All 228 people onboard were killed when the plane plunged into the Atlantic Ocean.

Egyptian prosecutors say ousted president Hosni Mubarak and two sons - - and his two sons will stand trial before a criminal court on charges that could carry a death sentence. They're accused of ordering the killing of anti-government protesters earlier this year, as well as abusing public funds.

Mubarak was forced to resign in February. He's now in police custody in a hospital in Sharm el-Sheikh.


ALY HASSAN, JUDICIAL ANALYST, CAIRO MINISTY OF JUSTICE (through translator): Mubarak is accused of giving orders to kill protesters. Egyptian law punishes the killer and those giving the orders with the death penalty.


FOSTER: A grim warning, more violent weather could be on the way to the American Midwest. Forecasters say more tornadoes could sweep across Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas even as crews continue to search for survivors of Sunday's tornado in Joplin, Missouri. At least 118 people were killed in that twister, the deadliest ever recorded in the United States.

Now, let's turn it back over to Becky, who's at Buckingham Palace.

ANDERSON: That's right. Thank you, Max. Coming up, the president and first lady may step off their plane alone, but everywhere they go, an army of staff and reporters follow. What it takes to move the president and the press corps across the ocean. That, coming up.


ANDERSON: You join me outside Buckingham Palace for a special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD. It's dinner -- a state dinner behind me, about 170- odd guests, including the president of the United States, Barack Obama, and his wife, being entertained by the queen.

Well, earlier, they met the British prime minister, certainly Obama did, for about 20 minutes at 10 Downing Street. They did not speak to reporters afterwards but, in an op-ed in "The Times of London" today, they wrote about a range of shared values and concerns, including terror threats and the rise of violent extremism.

The two leaders wrote of the importance of working together and sharing information to protect their people from "poisonous ideology," as they called it, and violence.

Well, decisions made by those two leaders, of course, reverberate across the Middle East. In just a moment, we'll hear form CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom about how much longer both countries will have troops in Afghanistan.

But first, the view from Pakistan, where recent developments have made a delicate situation even more fragile.


STAN GRANT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Stan Grant in Islamabad. Both the UK and the US have had rocky relations with Pakistan in recent times. UK prime minister David Cameron put his foot in it when he accused Pakistan of "looking both ways" on terrorism.

He's had to make up for that with cold, hard cash. He's pledging 650 million pounds. That's more than a billion dollars over the next four years in education. Pakistan will become the single biggest recipient of overseas foreign aid from Great Britain.

Now, the US also puts a lot of money into Pakistan, billions of dollars each year. But its relationship has soured after the killing of Osama bin Laden, Pakistan accusing the US of not respecting its sovereignty.

Now, US president Barack Obama, though, has said that the US will not hesitate to act unilaterally in the future if it feels its interests and the safety of its people are at stake.

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Mohammed Jamjoom in Kabul. While both the US and Britain are committed to training Afghan security forces, they're also aware that the army and police here aren't yet ready to confront the insurgency on their own.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Rasmussen said today that the numbers of Afghan security forces are impressive, that there are now 290,000, and he expects more. He also said that last week, over 35,000 Afghan soldiers and police were in training, an all-time high.

But the Taliban is in the midst of its spring offensive, having carried out several attacks in the past few weeks, underscoring how tenuous the security situation here is.

General David Petraeus, commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan, has warned of the possibility of increased high-profile attacks over the summer. A warning that comes as Petraeus must decide on the number of troop reductions in Afghanistan to meet US president Barack Obama's deadline to begin withdrawing US forces by July.


ANDERSON: Well, how realistic, then, is that departure date? Fawaz Gerges is a professor at the London School of Economics, a dear friend of the show, joining me now outside Buckingham Palace.

They're eating at the moment, it's a state dinner. Tomorrow, Barack Obama will get into -- sort of the meat and potatoes of the trip here --


ANDERSON: -- with David Cameron. And Afghanistan, of course, significant to both of them.

GERGES: It is. In fact, the Obama administration, Becky, was very unhappy when the British government decided to pull out 400 troops by next year.

Remember, there's a large contingent of British forces in Afghanistan, and the defense cuts have really affected the ability of Britain to maintain its forces in Afghanistan, of course, in Libya, and other places as well.

So, Afghanistan and Pakistan is one of the critical subjects that will be discussed between Barack Obama and the British prime minister.

ANDERSON: And Pakistan, given our history with Pakistanis, here you'll see third, fourth generation Pakistanis, British-Pakistanis living here. Now, an important country for Britain. What do you think Cameron believes the US is up to in Pakistan?

GERGES: Well, remember, in fact, even, Becky, in the United States, now, there's a great debate, big debate unfolding in the aftermath of bin Laden's death whether to maintain the level of troops -- the American troops. There are about 105,000 American soldiers.

The big debate is between the so-called counter-insurgency that is maintaining the same level of troops, and counter-terrorism, using special operation forces, targeted forces. So, even in the United States, there's a big debate about what to do in the next few months and next years.

The pressure on the American economy is overwhelming. The Obama administration is deeply divided on this. And in the same way, here, many British policymakers are not convinced that the Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy is really bearing fruit.

So, the debate is not just in Britain, but even in the United States itself.

ANDERSON: We know what the president of the United States thinks about the Middle East at the moment because, of course, we heard his speech just a couple of days ago. What did we learn from that, and what do you think David Cameron's going to want to hear, say, on Libya?

GERGES: I think if there is one particular big point that we need to get across to our audience is that the British and the American governments see eye to eye on the Arab revolutions, on the idea of dignity, on the idea of freedom, on the idea of opposing tyranny. It --

ANDERSON: But where was the substance?

GERGES: Well, this is a big question. In fact, you asked me about the British-American relationship. Many British politicians are unhappy with the Obama administration on Libya. Even though the Obama administration intervened initially, now the bulk of the operation is taken over by NATO forces.

The pressure on the British economy and the British forces are overwhelming. So, yes, there's a great deal of agreement, eye to eye, on the big issue. But when it comes to resources, when it comes to really paying for the -- and contributing forces, there are some major disagreements.

Afghanistan and Pakistan is one of the difficult issues where the two sides, they see eye to eye, but they don't really commit the same resources.

ANDERSON: On all of these issues and countries, is this special relationship now upgraded to an essential relationship a unique one? And important?

GERGES: You know, Becky, really, the code word now is security. What clearly an essential relationship means that it's based on interests, as opposed to the historical myth of special relationship.

And that's why, I think, both sides of trying to really, now, get across the idea that our relationship is rock-solid. Our relationship is based on security, whether it's in Afghanistan, Pakistan, whether it's in Libya, whether it's in the Arab world.

And I think it's really -- it presents a positive step in how the two leaderships view the world. It's a strategic, solid relationship.

ANDERSON: Fawaz Gerges, a big thinker on our show, we thank you very much, indeed, for joining us.

Well, wherever the president of the United States goes, the media goes. It's quite an entourage, let me tell you. Our Ed Henry and Brianna Keilar are just part of the press junket on what is this European trip, and we're going to follow them behind the scenes for a moment. Take a look at this.


ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I'm sort of carrying Brianna's bag. This is her first trip, and I feel like she should be welcomed in style. She's getting a great trip, too. Ireland, the UK, France.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Poland. It's going to be beautiful.

HENRY: Poland as well.

KEILAR: Now, this is a great trip. Ed and I are going to have a lot of fun and do a lot of work. Well, we're going to start off with a story that we did on the president's heritage, traced back here to Ireland. His great-great-great-grandfather was actually Irish, and he's going to visit his, essentially, ancestral hometown tomorrow.

HENRY: Maybe even go to a pub.

KEILAR: Maybe. Hoist a pint.

HENRY: Hoist a pint.


HENRY: Hey, we said the same thing!


HENRY: Jinx, so I owe you a pint.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The president pays his bar tab.



HENRY: We're going to bring you along for the ride. And I'm not carrying her bag again.


KEILAR: How would you like to chopper through this wind to Moneygall?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Back up! Back up, guys! You all back up!

HENRY: This trip just gets better and better. We're now on the grounds of Buckingham Palace. How cool is that? Interesting as well that they did all this on the back side of the palace, something we don't normally see.

Security was intense. There were a few members of a SWAT team, and some of them are still up there, as the queen has lunch right now with President Obama and the first lady.

Most of the media has gone away. You see there was a riser here for still photographers, TV cameras, and the like. So much attention focused on this, and they've got to get every last detail right.



ANDERSON: They were screaming for you, weren't they?

HENRY: Yes, they were. I've got fans here even in Britain. But you know, I was carrying Brianna Keilar's bags into Dublin. I would do the same for you.

ANDERSON: Did you get a pint when you were there?

HENRY: Yes, I did.

ANDERSON: You should get a pint. Good.

HENRY: It was pretty good.


HENRY: We went to Temple Bar that first night.


HENRY: It's a good thing we went, because we were supposed to take two nights in Dublin, but you learn on the road with the president, things change quickly. You have to adapt. Because of the ash from Iceland, we only got one night in Dublin, we had to race out of there to get here safely.

So, if I hadn't gone out that first night, never would've gotten a pint.

ANDERSON: Listen, I don't think our viewers will have any sense of just how big the entourage is when it travels. Talk me through this. There's something like, what, 200 security officers?

HENRY: Yes. At least. And they never really give us the precise number, because then it would give the enemy a sense of what they need to do to penetrate that security.

There's about 500 staffers, political policy folks, around the president. A few hundred in the White House press corps.

And so, it's like trying to tame a beast when they had to change the plans in Dublin to get here, because they were supposed to -- they weren't -- they didn't have a place for the president to stay, so they had to get Winfield House, the US ambassador's place ready like that.

ANDERSON: You talk about taming the beast. There is a beast traveling with the prime minister -- with the president, of course.

HENRY: Yes, we need information, and that's we got some great pictures and sound, there, in Ireland when he explored his roots. Today, a lot of pomp and circumstance here.

But tomorrow, we'll be looking at the substance, because after all of the sort of fun stuff, now you get down to some of the hard questions you were just talking about. What is the next step in Afghanistan? What's next in Libya? No easy answers.

ANDERSON: Ed, thank you.

HENRY: Great seeing you.

ANDERSON: Ed Henry, here with President Obama and his wife who, tonight, are having supper behind me, about 170 of them, the great and the good, let's call them. They're behind me in Buckingham Palace.

I'm Becky Anderson here for you in London. That's your world connected. Thank you for watching. Max will be back with the world news headlines after this short break. Don't go away.