British Prime Minister Theresa May on Saturday refused to condemn an order by US President Donald Trump suspending refugee arrivals, saying Washington was responsible for its own refugee policy.
“The United States is responsible for the United States’ policy on refugees. The United Kingdom is responsible for the United Kingdom’s policy on refugees,” May said at a news conference in Ankara, after being repeatedly pressed to give her opinion on Trump’s executive order.
“And our policy on refugees is to have a number of voluntary schemes to bring Syrian refugees into the country, particularly those who are most vulnerable but also to provide significant financial contributions to support refugees in countries surrounding Syria,” she added.
On the same day, May visited Washington for her first White House meeting with Trump to bolster the London-Washington relationship, the new President ordered a suspension of refugee arrivals.
He also imposed tough controls on travellers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
At a joint news conference with Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, May had initially declined to be drawn into directly giving any comment on Trump’s order.
Instead she praised Turkey for its hospitality in hosting some three million refugees from Syria and also Iraq.
Yildirim however offered implicit condemnation of Trump’s move, saying throwing up walls will not solve the world’s refugee problems.
“We cannot solve this refugee problem by putting up walls,” Yildirim said.
Trump’s executive order specifically says no visas will be issued for 90 days to migrants or visitors from the seven Muslim-majority countries.
Yildirim insisted that with tens of millions of refugees worldwide, it was a problem which “could not be ignored” but had to be solved with greater cooperation between countries.
“We opened our doors, and if they come again, we would take them again,” he said, adding: “Regional problems cannot be solved by sweeping them under the carpet.”
The Turkish authorities say they are hosting some 2.7 million Syrian refugees who fled the country during the over six-year conflict and another 300,000 Iraqi refugees.
Yildirim added it would not be possible to make “assessments on hearsay” with regard to Trump’s order.