Plymouth City Council Mayflower invite to US president

Mayflower Steps, Plymouth The pilgrim fathers boarded the Mayflower in Plymouth in September 1620 to sail to the "New World"

The President of the United States is to be invited to Plymouth to attend the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Pilgrim Fathers.

The anniversary is not until 2020, but the leader of Plymouth Council said it was important "to get in early".

Tudor Evans said he, or the Lord Mayor of Plymouth, would write to the White House "soon".

The Mayflower sailed from Plymouth in September 1620, with 102 "pilgrim fathers" bound for a new life.

Speaking to BBC News, Mr Evans said the scale of the anniversary was such that it required "quite a lot of forward planning" and he would be asking the prime minister and other world leaders to support the event.

"Although everybody knows the Mayflower sailed from Plymouth, we want to get this event in the national diary," he said.

"We're starting the campaign now to get the prime minister to declare it an event of international significance."

The White House, Washington DC The invitation will be sent to the White House, but not specifically to Barack Obama - who will not be US president in 2020

Mr Evans said because of the time scale involved, the invitation will not be issued specifically to President Barack Obama.

"The way these things work you have to flag it up almost like a 'to whom it may concern' letter," he said.

"We know that the G8 summit is going to be in the UK that year, but obviously the invitations haven't been sent out yet."

Work on the celebrations is under way and representatives from Plymouth Chamber of Commerce will travel to Plymouth, Massachusetts in May.

"So whether it's Prime Minister Cameron or Prime Minister Milliband - whoever it will be in 2020, we need to have it in the diary," Mr Evans added.

The Mayflower arrived in "New Plymouth", Massachusetts on 21 December, 1620 at a spot now known as Plymouth Rock.

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