Trump Cancels London Trip over Embassy Dispute, Blames Obama

Trump Cancels London Trip over Embassy Dispute, Blames Obama

Friday, 12 January, 2018 - 10:15
US President Donald Trump. (AP)
Asharq Al-Awsat
US President Donald Trump canceled on Friday a trip to London over a dispute over his country’s new embassy.

He was set to travel to England in February to open the new mission, but deemed the new deal on the new embassy as bad, blaming Barack Obama for selling off the old one for “peanuts.”

"(The) 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," Trump said in a tweet late on Thursday.

“Bad deal. Wanted me to cut ribbon-NO!” Trump said.

The decision to acquire a new London embassy site on the south bank of the Thames was announced in 2008 under George W. Bush along with the plans to put the Grosvenor Square site in Mayfair up for sale.

More than a year into his presidency, Trump has yet to visit London, with many British voters promising mass protests against a US leader they see as crude, volatile and opposed to their values on a range of issues.

A pillar of Britain’s foreign policy since World War Two, the so-called “special relationship” with Washington has taken on added importance as Britain prepares to leave the European Union in 2019 and seeks new major trade deals.

Some British lawmakers questioned whether Trump would be welcome in London because of previous tweets and criticism of Muslims and his sniping at London Mayor Sadiq Khan in the aftermath of a terror attack in that city last year.

A Downing Street spokesman declined immediate comment.

May was the first foreign leader to visit Trump after his inauguration in January last year, and they were filmed emerging from the White House holding hands. She later said Trump took her hand in a gentlemanly gesture as they walked down a ramp.

During that trip a year ago, May extended an invitation to make a state visit - which includes pomp, pageantry and a formal banquet with Queen Elizabeth - by the end of 2017.

That state visit, which is different to his now canceled working trip, has still not yet taken place, though British officials insist it has not been canceled.

The American flag was this month removed from the US embassy in Grosvenor Square - an area known as “Little America” during World War Two, when the square also housed the military headquarters of General Dwight D. Eisenhower.

The new embassy on the south bank is a veritable fortress set back at least 100 feet (30 meters) from surrounding buildings - mostly newly-erected high-rise residential blocks - and incorporating living quarters for US Marines permanently stationed inside.

The $1 billion construction, overlooking the River Thames, was funded by the sale of other properties in London.

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