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Page last updated at 11:21 GMT, Thursday, 10 January 2013

Why does US want UK in the EU?

Britain's membership of the EU is "in the American interest", a senior US official has said.

Philip Gordon, who has responsibility for US relations with the EU and its member states, also said that it was for the "British government and the British people to define their relationship with the European Union".

Fran Burwell, director of the Program on Transatlantic Relations at the Atlantic Council think tank in Washington, said that "we need good partners in the EU".

"It has been valuable for the United States to have someone who thinks more similarly to the United States to have a seat at the table in Brussels."

Conservative backbencher Dominic Raab, talking to Today presenter James Naughtie, said the US wanted contradictory things from Europe.

He said the US wanted a "united Europe as a matter of convenience", but this would lead America to become more "decoupled with Britain", as Britain would have stronger bonds with Europe.

Douglas Alexander, the shadow foreign secretary, said that Britain's membership of the EU strengthens its place in the world and that as economic power shifts towards Asia, Britain should should not relinquish this position lightly.

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