12 Jan 2018

Trump tweets UK trip cancelled over embassy 'bad deal'

7:51 pm on 12 January 2018

US President Donald Trump has cancelled a visit to the UK next month, saying he was not a "big fan" of the new US embassy in London he was due to open.

US President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May at the G20 summit in Germany last year.

US President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May at the G20 summit in Germany last year. Photo: AFP

Mr Trump had been expected to open the new $US1 billion building commissioned by predecessor Barack Obama, which he said was a "bad deal".

The latest development followed reports that Mr Trump wanted to delay a potential visit amid concerns about large-scale protests.

However Mr Trump said in a tweet that he was not happy the Obama administration had sold the previous US embassy at Grosvenor Square in London for "peanuts".

He said the new building in Vauxhall, south London, was in an "off location", adding: "Wanted me to cut ribbon-NO!"

Moves to relocate the embassy to the new site began in October 2008 because of security concerns after a report on the old embassy's perimeter security in June 2007.

The new building was to have a focus on environmental sustainability and energy efficiency.

During the Queen's Speech at the state opening of the UK's Parliament last summer, there was no mention of a visit - although a Downing Street spokesman said an invitation had been "extended and accepted".

Typically during state visits, the government, the visiting government and the royal household agree on a detailed schedule where the Queen acts as the official host.

No firm date for a state visit had ever been agreed, however, nor had the White House "nailed down the details of the trip" BBC diplomatic correspondent James Landale said.

The opening ceremony may instead be hosted by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Downing Street declined to comment on Mr Trump's cancellation, but the BBC understands No 10 is considering options for a state visit later in the year, with plans for Mr Trump to have lunch with the Queen at Buckingham Palace.

US ambassador to the UK Woody Johnson last month told the BBC he "absolutely" expected Mr Trump to visit Britain in the new year.

Mrs May was the first foreign leader to meet Mr Trump after his inauguration when she visited the Oval Office in January 2017.

According to BBC North America editor Jon Sopel, Mr Trump felt the embassy was a legacy of his predecessor, Barack Obama, who was in office when the site in Wandsworth was secured in 2008.

Recent policy disagreements between the US and UK are not thought to have played a part in the decision - including Mr Trump's move to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Mrs May said she disagreed with that US decision, which she deemed "unhelpful in terms of prospects for peace in the region".

And in November, Mr Trump clashed with Mrs May after she said it was "wrong" for the US president to share videos posted by the far-right group Britain First.

Mrs May more recently discussed Brexit and events in the Middle East in a pre-Christmas phone call with Mr Trump.

- BBC

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