June 16, 2010
By Ben Feller
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama met on his own turf with top BP officials on Wednesday to press his demands that the London-based oil giant pay into a claims fund for victims of the worst oil spill in the nation’s history.
BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg, CEO Tony Hayward, and other officials walked slowly as a group from the Southwest Gate of the White House, where they were dropped off, and climbed the steps leading to the West Wing.
The meeting comes the morning after Obama vowed to an angry nation that “we will make BP pay for the damage their company has caused.” BP is the majority owner of the deep water well that blew out on April 20, killing 11 rig workers and triggering the spill.
It was Obama’s first meeting with BP officials since the spill. While Hayward has served as the voice of the company, the White House has been emphasizing the role of the company’s chairman, Svanberg, instead.
Obama in his speech to the nation from the Oval Office backed creation of a fund administered by an independent trustee to pay damages and clean up costs associated with the spill.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and other Democrats have suggested the fund be established with $20 billion from BP.
In his Oval Office address, Obama described the battle against the spill in combat terms, calling it o — a “siege” on the shores of America.