The US defence secretary will arrive in London this week with a warning that neither Britain nor America can afford to "weaken our defences in the process of solving our budget woes", a senior Pentagon official has told The Daily Telegraph.
US to warn Britain that cuts must not weaken defence
By Raf Sanchez, Washington
8:17PM GMT 13 Jan 2013
Leon Panetta's last trip as a member of President Barack Obama's cabinet will take him to four European nations at a time of severe military budget cuts on both sides of the Atlantic.
While European members of Nato rein in defence spending as part of widespread austerity drives, Mr Panetta's own department faces deep cuts within weeks unless Congress can agree on a compromise to avert them.
Derek Chollet, US assistant secretary of defence for international security, said the Pentagon chief was making the journey to "reaffirm the importance of the transatlantic security partnership" but also to compare notes on defence at a time of economic hardship.
"Clearly the UK in the last few years has been going through its own exercise of dealing with a difficult economic situation and budget cuts and giving a lot of thought to future strategy, as have we," Mr Chollet said.