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BUSH, BROWN BEGIN FIRST TALKS

Before arriving at Camp David, the British leader says he hopes to bolster nations' ties.

President Bush, starting a new relationship in his presidency, welcomed British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Sunday with casual diplomacy.

In the tranquility of the Catoctin Mountains, Bush and Brown began two days of talks at Camp David, with an emphasis on private time between the two. Their substantive agenda is familiar: terror threats, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, crisis in Darfur, stalled trade.

Yet the overarching theme is rapport - and establishing some.

Bush is aiming for at least a solid relationship with Brown, shaped around their nations' mutual interests. But it is far from the kinship Bush had with Brown's predecessor, Tony Blair, who lost favor at home because of his close ties to Bush.

"It's a great pleasure to be here at Camp David because there's so much history associated with it," Brown told Bush as he and Bush exchanged small talk.

En route to the United States, the new British leader said the world is indebted to the United States for taking the lead in the fight against terrorism. He said he would use his visit to strengthen what Britain considers its "most important bilateral relationship."

London and Washington are focused on "the biggest single and immediate challenge the world has to defeat: global terrorism," Brown told reporters.

He denied speculation that Britain's relationship with the United States was cooling.

Blair was often accused at home of being too compliant with the policies of Bush, especially on the Iraq war. Some analysts have urged Brown to be more like Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher and Winston Churchill, who had close ties with the United States but remained frank about their own goals and policies.

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