London: Straight-talking or gaffe-prone Britain`s new Prime Minister David Cameron has
divided opinion with some unusually direct public comments on
foreign policy from Pakistan and Gaza to the US.
Cameron seems to have patched things up with
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari after he accused Pakistan
of promoting "the export of terror" on a visit to India last
The pair insisted relations between Britain and
Pakistan were "unbreakable" and vowed to step up cooperation
on security after meeting Friday for the first time since the
But the dust has not yet settled on other
controversial remarks made by Cameron, a centre-right
Conservative, in his first visits to world leaders since
taking office as head of a coalition government in May.
While in Turkey, he called Gaza a "prison camp" and
said he was "angry" at the slow pace that Turkey`s bid for
European Union membership was progressing, seen as a jibe at
France and Germany.
He also acknowledged that Britain was the "junior
partner" in relations with the United States ahead of a trip
to the White House.
Last week, in an apparent slip of the tongue, he
even suggested that Iran had a nuclear weapon -- although
Downing Street later insisted he was only talking about
Tehran`s pursuit of one.
"He is increasingly getting a reputation for being
a foreign policy klutz, with two right feet, both of them
firmly planted in his mouth," said Chris Bryant, a Foreign
Office minister in the last Labour government under Gordon
Other commentators have suggested that Cameron
might be better off conveying his stronger opinions in
private, rather than through very public soundbites.
Cameron defended his comments on Pakistan by saying
it was important "to speak frankly about these things to
countries that are your friends" and this attitude also seems
to extend to other nations.
And some experts suggest that, while there may have
been some gaffes, Cameron`s straight-talking could be linked
to a shake-up of how British diplomacy works.
The 43-year-old prime minister wants to see greater
emphasis on boosting Britain`s ties with emerging economic
powers like India and Turkey.
This means turning away from the interventionist
policies pursued under the previous Labour government --
particularly prime minister Tony Blair, who took Britain into
wars in Afghanistan and Iraq -- and, by implication, freeing
up Cameron in his foreign policy declarations.