United Kingdom and U.S.-UK Relations [December 20, 2012]   [open pdf - 286KB]

"The modern U.S.-UK relationship was forged during the Second World War, and cemented during the Cold War as both countries worked together bilaterally and within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to counter the threat of the Soviet Union. The United States and the UK are two of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, and both are founding members of NATO. In the early 1990s, the UK was an important U.S. ally in the first Gulf War, and the two countries later worked together in stabilization and peacekeeping operations in the Balkans. The UK was the leading U.S. ally in the 2003 invasion of Iraq and subsequent stabilization operations, remains the largest non-U.S. contributor to the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan, and took a leading role in alliance operations in Libya in 2011. It is also an important U.S. partner in efforts to pressure Iran over its nuclear activities, and to restart the Middle East peace process. The UK is the seventh-largest economy in the world and a major financial center. The United States and the UK share an extensive and mutually beneficial trade and economic relationship, and each is the other's largest foreign investor. U.S. and UK officials, from the cabinet level down, consult frequently and extensively on many global issues. American and British diplomats report often turning to each other first when seeking to build support for their respective positions in multilateral institutions or during times of crisis, as in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks on the United States. British input is often cited as an element in shaping U.S. foreign policy debates. Some observers assert that a common language and cultural similarities, as well as the habits of cooperation that have developed over the years, contribute to the ease with which U.S. and UK policymakers interact with each other. The term 'special relationship' has often been used to describe the high degree of mutual trust between the two countries in cooperating on diplomatic and political issues. The special relationship also encompasses close intelligence-sharing arrangements and unique cooperation in nuclear and defense matters."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL33105
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