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McCain meeting British, French leaders

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  • Sen. John McCain on week-long trip through Middle East and Europe
  • Presumptive GOP presidential nominee meeting with British, French leaders
  • Trip allows McCain to burnish international profile while Democrats continue to fight
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From Robin Oakley
CNN London Bureau
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Robin Oakley is CNN's European political editor based in London and has more than 40 years of experience as a political journalist and commentator.

LONDON, England (CNN) -- President Bush is still firmly in the White House, but Sen. John McCain was busy presenting the new face of Republican America to the world this week.

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Sen. John McCain, left, meets with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown Thursday.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee has been burnishing his worldwide image, first stopping in Iraq, his eighth visit, then Jordan and Israel.

Thursday it was photo-op time -- and some discussions -- with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown at 10 Downing Street in London. On Friday he heads to France to meet with French President Sarkozy

It's been the perfect opportunity for the Republican heir-apparent to stack up some credits as international statesman while the Democrats are still squabbling over their nominee.

Officially McCain was touring as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He came out of Downing Street with his co-members Sens. Joe Lieberman and Lindsay Graham. Video Watch McCain pray at the Western Wall in Jerusalem »

But there was no doubt who was the focus of the trip. And in case the British media hadn't appreciated the message, Lieberman, who was the vice presidential candidate for the Democrats in 2000, was happy to help with the with public relations.

"Sen. McCain is a consistent and steadfast internationalist on matters both diplomatic and economic and environmental," Lieberman said. "He is also as we say in the U.S. a 'straight talker.' "

So what had been the main focus of his straight talking with Brown, who is trying to cut British troops in Iraq? The senator underlined his reputation as the man who would continue the "surge". Video Watch McCain argue that the surge is working »

"We are now succeeding in Iraq and Americans at least, I believe are in significant numbers agreeing that the present strategy of the surge is succeeding and they want us to succeed," McCain said.

You need friends at the top, so , despite reporters' encouragements, he didn't repeat his earlier criticism of the British pullout from the Iraqi city of Basra to the airport. That, he said, was up to the British.

Instead he praised Brown's record on green issues and presented himself as the optimistic environmentalist:

"I am convinced that if we work at it, we will convince India and China that it is in their interests to be part of a global agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," the Arizona Republican said.

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McCain, anxious to cover all bases, met others in Britain, including British opposition leader David Cameron.

But practicalities were covered too, like a $1000-a-head fund raising lunch -- not open to the media -- at historic Spencer House. After all there will be more travel expenses to meet. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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