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Trump 'still welcome' in UK despite mayor spat

June 6, 2017

Despite tensions between the US president and London's mayor, the UK foreign secretary has sanctioned the state visit. In the wake of a deadly attack in London, Donald Trump lashed out at the mayor by misquoting him.

Bildkombo Kombibild Donald Trump und Sadiq Khan
Image: Getty Images/O.Andersen

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson confirmed on Tuesday that an official visit by US President Donald Trump will go forward despite an ongoing feud between London Mayor Sadiq Khan and the American head of state concerning Saturday's terrorist attack.

On Monday, Khan, the first Muslim to be elected mayor of London, called on the British government to cancel Trump's visit, saying "his policies go against everything we stand for." But Johnson noted that he did not want to enter the dispute between the two political leaders.

Belgien Boris Johnson EU Außenministertreffen in Brüssel
Johnson said he empathized with Khan, having had a similar run-in with Trump while he was London mayor Image: Reuters/F. Lenoir

"The invitation has been issued and accepted and I see no reason to change that. But, as far as what Sadiq Khan has said about the reassurances that he's offered the people of London, I think he was entirely right to speak in the way he did," Johnson said in a BBC radio interview.

Read more: Trump's planned UK state visit divides Brits

The foreign secretary and former London mayor added that he had once "been there," an apparent allusion to his 2015 rebuke of Trump's claims that there were areas in London where police were "afraid for their lives" to enter due to large Muslim communities.

"The only reason I wouldn't go to some parts of New York is the real risk of meeting Donald Trump," Johnson said at the time.

Ongoing dispute

The dispute between Trump and Khan re-emerged on Sunday in the wake of a terrorist attack in central London.

Trump misquoted Khan, saying: "At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is 'no reason to be alarmed.'"

London Mayor Sadiq Khan on London Bridge attack

In the wake of the attack, Khan gave a press conference in which he detailed the police's response and plans for increased security across the city.

"Londoners will see an increased police presence today and over the course of the next few days. No reason to be alarmed. One of the things the police, all of us need to do is make we're as safe as we possibly can be," Khan said.

Read more: Donald Trump Jr. unleashes Twitter storm with London attack comment

Trump, however, took the opportunity of the London terrorist attack to push his agenda for a "travel ban" on seven Muslim-majority countries.

Hours later, the US president once again lashed out at Khan, saying: "Pathetic excuse by London Mayor Sadiq Khan who had to think fast on his 'no reason to be alarmed' statement." 

Although British government officials have failed to rebuke Trump's comments, they have instead supported Khan's remarks, with British Prime Minister Theresa May  saying: "I think Sadiq Khan is doing a good job and it is wrong to say anything else."

ls/rc (Reuters, AFP)