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Wednesday, Sep 18, 2019

Donald Trump says may visit Jerusalem for inauguration of new US embassy

US President Donald Trump also said he reduced the construction of new embassy in Jerusalem from $1 billion to a “fraction of the cost”

world Updated: Apr 28, 2018 22:44 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
US President Donald Trump also gave an insight into the internal White House deliberations on the new embassy in Jerusalem.
US President Donald Trump also gave an insight into the internal White House deliberations on the new embassy in Jerusalem.(AP File Photo)

President Donald Trump has indicated he might travel to Jerusalem for the opening of the new US embassy, which would be the first to relocate to the disputed city from Tel Aviv, now home to all diplomatic missions, including India’s.

“I may go,” Trump told reporters at a joint news briefing with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “Very proud of it.”

The embassy is slated to open around Israel’s 70th anniversary on May 14.

On Friday, however, Trump seemed keener to talk about the costs of the new premises. “The papers were put before me to sign, an application for more than $1 billion to build an embassy,” he said. He added, half turning towards Merkel, “I had my name half signed and I noticed the figure and I never got to the word ‘Trump’.”

Merkel tried to not show her emotions.

Trump pressed on with his narration. He said he called US ambassador David Friedman, who, in the president’s telling, offered to have the new embassy up and running for only $150,000.

That was too low, according to Trump, a New York real estate tycoon before he entered the White House. So he suggested expenses could go up to $300,000.

“But that’s the way government works,” he said. “They were going to spend a billion dollars and we’re going to spend much less than half a million dollars.”

Several presidents had promised to shift the US embassy to Jerusalem, the part of the old city controlled by Israel, but had baulked at pulling the trigger, fearing reaction from the Palestinians and the rest of world.

Trump went ahead and announced it in 2017.

But if there were still any doubts in his mind, he might feel compelled to go if the Israeli government named the new neighbourhood for relocating embassies after Trump, as proposed by a minister.

The Jerusalem Post reported on Friday that construction minister Yoav Gallant was considering naming the new enclave “Trump Town”. Other names he is weighing included “Embassy Town”.

Three other countries are reportedly relocating to Jerusalem — the Czech Republic, Romania and Honduras.

First Published: Apr 28, 2018 09:31 IST