City leaders back bid to bring US President to visit

WELCOME VISITOR US President Barack Obama has been invited to Portsmouth
WELCOME VISITOR US President Barack Obama has been invited to Portsmouth

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PORTSMOUTH leaders have backed the ambitious bid to bring Barack Obama to the city.

As reported in The News yesterday, the President of the United States has been asked to come to Portsmouth for the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

It’s hoped he will join US veterans, who are coming to the city via cruise ship, for a ceremony before heading to Normandy on a US warship in time for the D-Day anniversary on June 6.

The invitation was sent to the White House by Portsmouth City Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson.

He hopes President Obama will be joined by other world leaders on warships from their own nations.

‘This would be enormous for Portsmouth,’ Cllr Vernon-Jackson said.

‘We had Bill Clinton here for the 50th anniversary and that was very important.

‘This is going to be the last time that the veterans from D-Day will be going to one of these events because by nature they are in their 90s.

‘It’s right that we do this properly.’

Portsmouth South MP Mike Hancock said President Obama’s presence would be the icing on the cake.

‘The 50th anniversary was all about the veterans,’ he said.

‘Now it’s the 70th, there are not so many of them around so we have to have a different kind of event.

‘It will be about explaining the history and significance behind D-Day.

‘Having the President here would be great for the profile of Portsmouth.

‘If you get someone like that here then it’s a pretty important thing.’

The council’s seafront manager David Evans, is spearheading the bid as well as a series of events next year to mark important military dates.

They include the anniversary of the beginning of the First World War in August, the 350th birthday of the Royal Marines, and the 20th anniversary of HMS King Alfred, the country’s largest naval reserves unit, being in Portsmouth.