London (United Kingdom) (AFP) – US President Donald Trump will make a long-awaited visit to Britain on July 13, Downing Street announced on Thursday, his first since taking power in January last year.
The visit had been repeatedly delayed amid a series of diplomatic spats and fears that it could be overshadowed by mass protests.
“The President of the United States will visit the UK on 13 July,” Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman said in a statement, adding Trump would hold bilateral talks with the British leader.
May controversially offered Trump a state visit — which would involve meeting Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace — when she was the first foreign leader to visit him after entering the White House.
The invitation provoked uproar in Britain, where the US president’s “America First” agenda, including a proposed ban on immigration from a number of Muslim-majority countries, is unpopular.
British lawmakers called on May to withdraw the offer, while protesters promised to turn out in record numbers.
The July trip is set to be a working visit, with the US president expected at a NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium, on July 11 and 12.
Meanwhile the offer of a ceremonial state visit remains on the table, according to a Whitehall source.
May has faced repeated calls to withdraw the state visit offer following diplomatic fallouts with the American leader, who has already visited several other European capitals.
Relations turned particularly testy last November after Trump shared three inflammatory anti-Muslim videos posted by far-right group Britain First.
The retweeting caused consternation in Britain and further calls to scrap any visit.
When May condemned Trump for sharing the messages, he tweeted at her “don’t focus on me, focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom.”
Trump later made a rare apology, saying he did not know the group’s background before sharing.
The US leader was expected in the British capital for the opening of the new American embassy on the banks of the River Thames in a former industrial area that is being regenerated.
But Trump again caused potential offence when he disparaged the neighbourhood and announced that he would not be coming to London.
He cited the reason for the no-show as the decision to sell America’s old embassy in Mayfair for “peanuts” and the new $1.2 billion site as in “an off location” for 1.2 billion dollars.
“Bad deal. Wanted me to cut ribbon-NO!” he tweeted.