Donald Trump to visit UK in second half of 2018
US President Donald Trump will visit the UK in the second half of 2018, but the visit will not take the form of a formal state visit.world Updated: Jan 26, 2018 20:37 IST
Donald Trump will visit the UK in the second half of this year for a working visit agreed between UK officials and the US President’s team at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Downing Street said on Friday.
The plans follow a meeting between Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May on the sidelines of the summit on Thursday.
“The PM and President concluded by asking officials to work together on finalising the details of a visit by the President to the UK later this year,” Downing Street said.
The visit will not take the form of a formal state visit, which involves a ceremonial welcome from Queen Elizabeth II and a state banquet at Buckingham Palace.
The invitation for a state visit had been extended during a Washington DC visit by Theresa May in January 2017 but has since been the subject of much controversy, with Opposition parties in the UK insisting that the US President does not deserve such pomp and ceremony.
The meeting between the two leaders in Switzerland was seen as crucial after Trump had suddenly cancelled plans of a working visit to open the new US Embassy building in London next month.
While ostensibly he blamed the previous Barack Obama led US government for a bad decision on selling off the older US Embassy building for “peanuts”, the cancellation was widely seen as a sign of strain in UK-US ties following the US President’s retweets of videos from a far-right UK group Britain First.
Trump sought to quash those rumours by expressing his “love” for the UK and saying relations between the two countries remain strong.
“I have a tremendous respect for the Prime Minister and the job she’s doing and I think the feeling is mutual from the standpoint of liking each other a lot. That was a little bit of a false rumour out there, I just wanted to correct it,” Trump told reporters.
“We love your country,” he said, adding that the US and UK were “joined at the hip” on military matters.
Later, in an interview with Britain’s ITV channel, he said he was prepared to apologise for retweeting posts from Britain First.
“If you are telling me they’re horrible people, horrible, racist people, I would certainly apologise if you’d like me to do that,” he said in the interview conducted in Davos on Friday to be broadcast fully in the UK on Sunday.
The row over the tweets last year had escalated further after Theresa May said: “I’m very clear that retweeting from Britain First was the wrong thing to do.” It had prompting Trump to tweet directly to the British PM, asking her to focus on “terrorism” in the UK instead.
Asked if he regretted the tweets, Trump said: “They had a couple of depictions of radical Islamic terror. It was done because I am a big believer in fighting radical Islamic terror. This was a depiction of radical Islamic terror.”
One of the videos retweeted by Trump had unverified footage of a “Muslim migrant” attacking a young Dutch man on crutches, with another showing a man smashing a statue of the Virgin Mary. The third video, originating from riots that took place in Egypt in 2013, showed a man being pushed from the top of a building.
“I know nothing about them, I don’t want to be involved with people [like that],” he said in reference to the far- right group.
Downing Street later said that Trump’s words on Britain First “speak for themselves”.