Published: Sun, January 14, 2018
Global | By Enrique Rogers

White House backtracks on Trump's United Kingdom snub

White House backtracks on Trump's United Kingdom snub

As a resident of Nine Elms in south London, just around the corner from the new American embassy, for strictly selfish reasons I welcomed the news that Donald Trump would not be coming to open it after all.

On the face of it, Trump called off his "working" visit to the United Kingdom because of his displeasure at the Obama administration's decision to sell off the previous, "finest", embassy in Grosvenor Square to the Qataris for "peanuts" (never mind the fact that this decision was made in the final months of George W Bush's time in office, not Barack Obama's).

However, Mr Trump blamed former president Mr Obama's administration for selling "perhaps the best located and finest embassy in London for peanuts".

"Bad deal. Wanted me to cut ribbon-NO!"

"The US chancery in Grosvenor Square had aged beyond its ability to be improved to current security and life safety standards without extensive investment in infrastructure that would require appropriated dollars", he said.

Khan noted Trump's cancellation "reinforces what a mistake it was for Theresa May to rush and extend an invitation of a state visit in the first place".

Asked about the PM's views on south London after the president described the embassy's new site as an "off location", the Number 10 spokesman said: "I think Vauxhall is a vibrant and important part of London and home to many businesses".

In Washington, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump's comment was exclusively about an embassy-related visit.

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Trump's roiling of diplomatic relations caused disruptions in the Western Hemisphere as well.

His decision not to come was welcomed by critics outraged by the USA travel ban on Muslim-majority countries, and more recently, Trump's decision to re-tweet anti-Muslim videos posted by a British far-right organisation. She later said Trump took her hand in a gentlemanly gesture as they walked down a ramp.

"A multi-disciplinary team of professionals considered over 170 criteria, to include physical security requirements, and determined that the Nine Elms site was the best overall location for the United States government", the statement added.

"Let's hope that Donald Trump also resists the pursuit of his divisive agenda".

But British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson suggested the decision was prompted by the opposition to Trump in Britain, and warned such critics "seem determined to put this crucial relationship at risk".

"His visit next month would, without doubt, have been met by mass peaceful protests", the mayor added.

But Johnson accused Khan and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn of damaging U.S. -Britain relations with their vocal criticism.

Some British lawmakers questioned whether Trump would be welcome in London because of previous tweets and criticism of Muslims and his sniping at London Mayor Sadiq Khan in the aftermath of a terror attack in that city a year ago.

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