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US leader cancels visit to London

A Madame Tussauds wax figure of President Donald Trump outside the new US embassy in southwest London on Friday. (AFP)

London: President Trump said late on Thursday that he had cancelled a trip to London because of the cost and "off location" of the new US embassy in the city, where he had been expected to face protests.

Nearly a year ago, Trump accepted an invitation to visit from Queen Elizabeth II, which was extended by Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain while she was in Washington shortly after Trump's inauguration.

That announcement set off a year of debate in Britain, where Trump is unpopular, and the timing of the visit was continually pushed back. British newspapers cited concerns about protests during a visit as officials tried to gauge how much pomp should greet Trump.

Last month the US ambassador to Britain, Woody Johnson, said that while no trip had been formally announced, he hoped Trump would visit in early 2018 and dedicate the new embassy.

On Thursday night, the President took to his favourite medium, Twitter, and announced that he had cancelled his trip because he was unhappy with the new building.

Trump's British critics responded with jeers.

Ed Miliband, the former Labour Party leader, responded to Trump's announcement on Twitter, saying: "Nope. It's because nobody wanted you to come. And you got the message."

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, said the President's tweet made clear that it had been a mistake for May to move so quickly to extend the invitation to Trump last year.

"It appears that President Trump got the message from the many Londoners who love and admire America and Americans but find his policies and actions the polar opposite of our city's values of inclusion, diversity and tolerance," he tweeted.

The old US embassy, in a historic square in the exclusive Mayfair neighbourhood, was deemed to be vulnerable to terrorist attacks. The new one is in a former rail yard on the South Bank of the Thames. Trump blamed the Obama administration for the move, accusing it of selling the old embassy for "peanuts" in a "bad deal".

New York Times News Service

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