herald

Thursday 25 May 2017

Trump invited to meet queen after May meeting

Theresa May and Donald Trump put on a united front after their White House meeting. Photo: PA
Theresa May and Donald Trump put on a united front after their White House meeting. Photo: PA

President Donald Trump pledged America's "lasting support" to the historic "special relationship" with Britain after he emerged from his first meeting with British PM Theresa May.

Mrs May, who said the meeting gave the two a chance to build a relationship, announced that Mr Trump had accepted an invitation from the Queen for a state visit later this year.

Mr Trump sought to charm Mrs May, noting during his first news conference as president that, "by the way, my mother was born in Scotland".

"I am honoured to have the prime minister here for our first official visit from a foreign leader," Mr Trump said, standing alongside Mrs May in the ornate White House East Room.

Prosperity

He added that the United States and the United Kingdom have "one of the great bonds."

"We pledge our lasting support to this most special relationship," Mr Trump said. "Together, America and the United Kingdom are a beacon for prosperity and the rule of law."

Mrs May thanked Mr Trump for inviting her to visit so soon after his inauguration last Friday and said there was "much on which we agree".

"Today's talks, I think, are a significant moment for President Trump and I to build our relationship," Mrs May said.

The Trump-May meeting came a day after Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto called off his own trip to Washington next week amid wrangling over who will pay for Mr Trump's planned wall along the Mexican border.

Mr Trump's spokesman said the president would seek a 20pc tax on Mexican imports to pay for the barrier, then later clarified that such a tax would be one possible approach.

Mrs May's meeting with the president is being hailed by the British government as a sign that the trans-Atlantic "special relationship" is valued by the new administration.

Mrs May's visit, so soon after Mr Trump's inauguration, has been criticised by her political opponents, and risks being overshadowed by the flood of announcements, plans and proposals coming out of the White House. On Thursday, Mrs May was repeatedly asked about Britain's stance on torture - the UK has condemned it - after Mr Trump said he thinks torturing terrorism suspects works.

She has strong reasons for wanting the relationship to work with Britain set to leave the EU and its 500m-person single market. A trade deal with the US, Britain's biggest export market, is a major prize.

Derision

Mr Trump has drawn parallels between Britain's choice to leave the EU and his own success, using the Brexit vote to bolster his derision of the 28-nation bloc and his preference for striking bilateral agreements.

That puts Mrs May in an awkward spot. She wants a good relationship with Mr Trump but does not share his disdain for the EU, saying it's in Britain's interests that it succeeds.

Mr Trump and Mrs May both addressed a Republican retreat in Philadelphia on Thursday, though their visits did not overlap. Mrs May's speech alternated between saluting Mr Trump's vision for what she called American "renewal" and reminding him, and his Republican colleagues, of the United States' global responsibilities.

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