Trump to make state visit to Britain: May

Washington, Jan 28 (IANS) British Prime Minister Theresa May announced Donald Trump is to make a state visit to Britain, as she sought to cement her relationship with the new US President.

Speaking at the White House on Friday, May congratulated Trump on his “stunning victory”, said she had secured an assurance of US support for NATO, and made early progress on discussions about a US-Britain trade deal, CNN reported.

Trump said he was “honored” that May had agreed to be the first foreign leader to visit after his inauguration. He predicted they would build a strong partnership.

Calling May “Madam Prime Minister,” Trump said that the relationship between the two countries was a “force for peace,” adding that a free and independent Britain was a “blessing to the world.”

May said Trump had accepted an invitation conveyed from Queen Elizabeth and would come to Britain later this year.

State visits are typically characterized by pomp and ceremony, and generally include a banquet with the Queen. It is unusual for US leaders to be offered full state visits so early in their terms.

May said that she is willing to voice her differences with the US administration. “There will be times when we disagree. The point of the special relationship is that we have that open and frank discussion,” May said.

Asked whether the “hard-working daughter of a vicar” and a brash businessman could get along, Trump quipped: “I’m not as brash as you might think.”

“I’m a people person and I think you are too Theresa. I think were going to have a fantastic relationship,” Trump said.

But some potential disagreements did emerge during the news conference, with May voicing her support for sanctions against Russia in the wake of its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

While Trump said that it was “too early” to talk about sanctions, he re-stated his hope for a good relationship with Russia — as good, he said, as with Britain.

Despite calls from Members of Parliament, including high-profile Conservatives, to denounce torture, May demurred on the issue.

Trump reiterated his support for torture but said he would defer to his Defense Secretary, James Mattis, who has made it clear he would operate within the law.