decision to cancel a planned trip to the U.K., long intended to be his first official visit to the country, became the latest indication of strains in ties between the U.S. and Britain.
Mr. Trump confirmed in a post on his Twitter account late Thursday night that the visit wouldn’t take place, hours after British newspapers attributed the move to the U.S. leader’s desire to avoid protests.
Mrs. May was the first leader to visit Mr. Trump in Washington after his inauguration and invited him to a state visit, which usually involves a stay at Buckingham Palace and a banquet with the queen. That visit hasn’t happened yet, and politicians and members of the public have called for the British leader to rescind her invitation.
The trip canceled by Mr. Trump had been designed as a working visit, not a state visit.
A wax model of Donald Trump outside the new U.S. embassy in London.
A British official said Friday that the U.K. hadn’t been aware of a scheduled date for the president’s visit and that the issue was a matter between the U.S. Embassy and the administration.
“We were never informed of a date for the visit—it’s not something we ever set out,” the official said. The official said the invitation for a state visit is still open, and the U.S.’s ambassador to the U.K.,
said last year he hoped Mr. Trump would visit in early 2018.
But the mayor of London,
wrote Friday on his Twitter account that Mr. Trump isn’t welcome. “Many Londoners have made it clear that Donald Trump is not welcome here while he is pursuing such a divisive agenda,” Mr. Khan wrote. “It seems he’s finally got that message.”
Every weekday around 7:30 a.m., people arrive at the U.S. Embassy in London and engage in a local tradition in American foreign affairs. They hide their stuff in bushes and trash cans. Read More.
A spokesman for Mrs. May said Friday that Mr. Trump is welcome in the U.K. and that he had accepted an invitation for a state visit. “The U.S. is one of our oldest and most valued allies and our strong and deep partnership will endure,” the spokesman said.
British Foreign Secretary
however, criticized the opposition Labour Party and Mr. Khan for trying to put the relationship between the U.K. and the U.S. at risk. “We will not allow U.S.-U.K. relations to be endangered by some puffed up popinjay in City Hall,” Mr. Johnson wrote on his Twitter account.
Mr. Trump, in his Twitter post late Thursday, gave a different explanation than what had been reported in the U.K., saying that he was angry that the U.S. Embassy had moved from its Grosvenor Square location.
“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. Bad deal. Wanted me to cut ribbon-NO!” Mr. Trump wrote shortly before midnight in Washington.
The U.S. considered many options when deciding how to upgrade the U.S. Embassy in a historic square in the Mayfair neighborhood to meet new security standards, but ultimately decided to move, and selected the current Nine Elms site out of 50 properties.
The embassy was constructed with proceeds from the sale of other U.S. government property in the U.K., including the former property in Grosvenor Square. The U.S. sold the old embassy to the property arm of Qatar’s sovereign-wealth fund for an undisclosed sum in 2009. British media estimated the sale to be about £500 million, or more than $800 million, based on exchange rates at the time.
A spokesman for the U.S. embassy in London said Friday that the old embassy had aged beyond its ability to be improved to the required standards without extensive investment in infrastructure.
“We are strongly committed in the special relationship between our two countries and we are confident the new embassy will provide the necessary platform to continue our cooperation,” the spokesman said.