LONDON — President Donald Trump has canceled a trip to London to open the new U.S. Embassy, blaming the Obama administration for selling the old building in the city for “peanuts.”
He criticised the move from “perhaps the best located and finest embassy,” even though the relocation was initiated under George W. Bush’s administration in 2008 and followed security concerns in the aftermath of terror attacks such as the 1998 embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya.
His decision was greeted with relief by London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan who said Trump had “finally got the message” that he was not welcome in the capital.
The looming trip, along with another state visit for which no date has yet been set, has created a security headache for authorities amid the threat of mass protests.
A recent poll found 48 percent of British people believe the U.K. should withdraw the invitation for a full state visit, and more than 1.8 million people signed a petition to stop it going ahead.
The new embassy, in a purpose-built site in London’s new Nine Elms developed south of the River Thames, was designed with security in mind.
The existing embassy, in Mayfair’s Grosvenor Square, is not set back from the road and unslightly barricades were installed around the building after 9/11.
Trump said on Twitter: “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.”
A statement on the embassy website said the cost of the new building has been entirely funded by the proceeds of the sale of other U.S. government properties in London and “not through appropriated funds.”
In 2015 Lydia Muniz, the director of the bureau of overseas building operations at the State Department, said that upgrading the existing embassy would have cost $550 million and still would not be as secure as the new site, according to the Associated Press.
U.S. Ambassador Robert “Woody” Johnson said last month that the $1 billion building was designed to be both welcoming and secure.
‘Many Londoners have made it clear that Donald Trump is not welcome here while he is pursuing such a divisive agenda. it seems he’s finally got the message,” said Khan, who said his visit next month would “without doubt” have been met by mass peaceful protests.
It is not the first time Trump and London’s mayor have come to blows, with Trump attacking Khan in the aftermath of the 2017 terror attack at London Bridge.
Former opposition party leader Ed Miliband also said the reason Trump had cancelled his trip was “because nobody wanted you to come. And you got the message.”
British Prime Minister Theresa May invited Trump for a state visit to the U.K. on visiting Washington a year ago, but activists immediately threatened to stage protests and lawmakers demanded that he should not be given the opportunity to address parliament.
A government spokesman told NBC News that “an invitation for a state visit has been extended and accepted and there will be further details in due course.”
British-U.S.relations reached a low at the end of last year, after May issued a rare rebuke of Trump for retweeting inflammatory anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant videos originally shared by a far-right U.K. political group.
Phil Helsel reported from Los Angeles. Saphora Smith reported from London.
Article Source : https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/president-trump-says-he-s-canceled-trip-london-n837036?cid=public-rss_20180112