British Prime Minister David Cameron met President Barack Obama at the White House Wednesday, in a reaffirmation of the two countries special relationship.

The two leaders are expected to hold talks on a wide range of issues including the withdrawal of U.S. and UK forces from Afghanistan and the ongoing crisis in Syria.

Standing in front of the White House, the President began the formal state visit -- only the fifth of his administration -- on a light-hearted note, joking that previous British visits had not been quite so cordial.

Referencing the August 1814 capture of Washington and the burning of several landmarks by the British, Obama noted the soldiers had really lit the place up during their visit to the White House.

It's 200 years since the British came to the White House under somewhat different circumstances, he said.

They made quite an impression, they really lit up the place, he joked. But we've moved on.

Cameron replied that he felt a little embarrassed that his ancestors had set fire to the building adding You're clearly not taking any risks with the Brits this time.

 Looking around me, you've got the place a little better defended today.

The visit has been marked by a number of informal gestures by the President, including the rare treat of allowing Cameron a ride on Air Force One.

Soon after touching down in Washington on Tuesday, Obama whisked the British premier off to Dayton, Ohio to enjoy a March Madness basketball game between Western Kentucky and Mississippi Valley State.

During the game Obama chatted with fans and leaned toward Cameron, explaining aspects of the game, Reuters reported.

Aside from the fun and games, the Ohio visit was also a shrewd political move for the President, with the state set to become a key battle ground in the upcoming November 6 elections.