President Donald Trump said he is calling off a planned trip to Britain, expressing displeasure with the impending opening of a new U.S. embassy building in London.
In a tweet early Friday morning, Trump criticized the location and cost of the new facility and said he wouldn’t attend the official opening ceremony scheduled for early February.
“Reason I canceled my trip to London is that I am not a big fan of the Obama Administration having sold perhaps the best located and finest embassy in London for ‘peanuts,’ only to build a new one in an off location for 1.2 billion dollars,” the president said. “Bad deal. Wanted me to cut ribbon-NO!”
Trump had accepted the Queen Elizabeth’s invitation for a state visit when he met with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May at the G20 summit in July. But diplomatic relations between Washington and the British government became strained in November, after Trump retweeted videos posted by a far-right U.K. politician that many saw as anti-Muslim.
May said it was “wrong” for the president to have shared the videos, which were first posted by the Britain First Party. London Mayor Sadiq Khan accused Trump of promoting “vile, extremist” views.
The U.K. government has also publicly criticized Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, further complicating relations with Washington.
Despite the increased tension, May’s office had still been working to lock down the dates of a possible visit in February, in what was expected to be a “working visit,” reports British newspaper The Independent. Later Friday, a spokesman for May said Trump is still welcome to visit at a later date.
“The invitation has been extended and accepted,” the spokesman said, according to Reuters, adding that no date has been confirmed.”The U.S. is one of our oldest and most valued allies and our strong and deep partnership will endure.”
The so-called “special relationship” between the U.S. and Britain has taken on added significance as London negotiates its exit from the European Union. Trump was one of the few world leaders to endorse the move, and May’s government has been courting closer ties to Washington, particularly in the area of bilateral trade.
Though Trump criticized Obama for the U.S. embassy location, the decision to move out of the Mayfair section of London was set in 2008 under the George W. Bush administration. Washington had considered upgrading the existing facility, but ultimately decided that tougher physical security standards would be easier to meet by constructing a new building.
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