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US-UK relationship 'highest level of special': Trump

Last updated on: July 13, 2018 22:01 IST

United States President Donald Trump said he apologised to Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday over his bombshell interview with a British tabloid, in which he claimed she had ignored his advice on Brexit and praised former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s potential as a possible premier.

IMAGE: British Prime Minister Theresa May and US President Donald Trump attend a joint press conference following their meeting at Chequers in Aylesbury, England. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau-WPA Pool/Getty Images

Trump’s comments were condemned by British politicians as it delivered an astonishing political knifing of the already embattled May, comprehensively undermining her fragile position in Britain’s tortuous negotiations on leaving the European Union next year.

Addressing a joint press conference at the end of their bilateral talks at the prime minister’s country residence, Chequers, Trump said, “She’s a total professional.”

“I said, ‘I want to apologise because I said such good things about you,’ And she said, ‘Don’t worry, it’s only the press,’” Trump said of their purported conversation.

IMAGE: May said that they would be pursuing an 'ambitious' trade deal and Trump said today was about celebrating the special relationship between America and Britain and said it was a 'bond like no other' as they fought to repair the special relationship. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau-WPA Pool/Getty Images

Trump added that he wished the Sun newspaper put the “tremendous things” he said about May in its headline, but acknowledged, “That’s one of those things.”

Trump has insisted the US-UK relationship is “the highest level of special”.

He said Brexit was an “incredible opportunity” and “whatever” the UK did after it left the European Union was “OK with me”.

IMAGE: Trump and May hold hands ahead of addressing the media. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau-WPA Pool/Getty Images

Trump described Brexit as a “very tough situation... between the borders and the entries into the countries and all of the things”, saying: “The only thing I ask is that she work it out so that we can have very even trade”.

Trump said: “The relationship between our two nations is indispensable to the cause of liberty, justice, and peace.”

British Prime Minister May said they had discussed plans for an “ambitious” trade agreement.

May said the US was “keen” to do a deal with the UK, adding: “We will do a trade deal with them and with others around the rest of the world”.

IMAGE: Trump said that May was an 'incredible woman is doing fantastic job' and said the Brexit negitiations are a 'tough deal'. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau-WPA Pool/Getty Images

She maintained the government’s Brexit agreement “delivers” on the referendum vote.

In the interview with the Sun newspaper, Trump -- who has been a long-time supporter of Brexit -- said May had not listened to his advice on how to do a Brexit deal, saying: “I would have done it much differently.”

Trump also said that former British Foreign Secretary Johnson -- who disagrees with May on Brexit and resigned this week -- would make a “great prime minister”, adding: “I think he’s got what it takes.”
But at the Chequers news conference, Trump said he had been responding to the Sun’s question about Johnson as a possible prime minister, adding: “He has been very nice to me. He’s been saying very good things about me as president”.

IMAGE: Trump said he got to know Theresa May much better over the past two days and said she is a terrific person. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau - WPA Pool/Getty Images

After Trump’s interview was published, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the president “likes and respects Prime Minister May very much”, adding that he had “never said anything bad about her”.

Meanwhile, shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry said the Prime Minister May “should be standing up to [Mr Trump]” after he “slagged her off”, instead of holding his hand.

IMAGE: May holds bi-lateral talks with US President Donald Trump at Chequers. She also gifted him a special gift honouring his ties with Scotland. Photograph: Jack Taylor - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Earlier in the day, British Prime Minister Theresa May presented US President Donald Trump with a special ancestral chart commemorating his mother’s Scottish birth.

The illustrated ancestral chart of the Scottish heritage of the US President, currently on tour in the UK, is a nod to his mother Mary Anne Macleod, who was born in 1912 on the Isle of Lewis in the Hebrides.

“President Trump is the first US president for over 100 years with a parent born in the UK. This gift underlines the deep historical links that many modern-day Americans have with the United Kingdom,” Downing Street said in a statement.

The second day of Trump’s visit to the UK was marked by mass protests across Britain, with a huge blimp depicting him as a baby wearing a nappy flown by demonstrators in London.

Melania bowls over Britain

IMAGE: US First Lady Melania Trump, reacts as she tries her hand at bowls whilst meeting British Army veterans, known as Chelsea Pensioners, at Royal Hospital Chelsea . Photograph: Leon Neal/Getty Images

US First Lady Melania Trump howed off her playful side as she tried her hand at bowls during a visit to the Royal Hospital Chelsea on Friday morning.

The First Lady, 48, joined Philip May, 60, for the game with the Chelsea Pensioners and a group of local schoolchildren.

IMAGE: Melania, high-fives a Chelsea Pensioners as she tries her hand at bowls as she meets British Army veterans. She looked chic in a striped dress by English designer Victoria Beckham. Photograph: Leon Neal/Getty Images

Trump, who wore a Victoria Beckham dress and 5in heels for the engagement, threw herself into the spirit of the competition, groaning with frustration when her turn went awry.

She clapped as May stepped onto the green and later celebrated by high-fiving a uniformed Chelsea Pensioner, much to his delight.

IMAGE: Melania Trump, and Philip May, the husband of British Prime Minister Theresa May, wave their respective country's flags at the event. Photograph: Leon Neal/Getty Images

Earlier Philip May and Trump joined the children in making Remembrance Day poppies.

IMAGE: Melania makes Remembrance Day poppies with schoolchildren and British Army veterans, known as Chelsea Pensioners, at Royal Hospital Chelsea. Photograph: Leon Neal/Getty Images

Fit for a king! May hosts dinner reception for Trump

IMAGE: Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May and her husband Philip May greet US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump at Blenheim Palace in Woodstock, England. Blenheim Palace is the birth place of the great wartime British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, of whom the President is a big fan. The PM hosted dinner for the President and First Lady and business leaders as part of the US First Couple's official visit to the UK. Photograph: Pool/Getty Images

British Prime Minister Theresa May welcomed US President Donald Trump and his wife Melania to Blenheim Palace with a lavish black-tie dinner on the first day of his UK visit.

The US first couple were given a red carpet reception.

The dinner, with 150 invited guests includes dignitaries and government employees.

A report in Vanity Fair read, “She wore a buttercup gown with shoulder capes that says, “I’m the princess now.” It’s very Beauty and the Beast, which, well, are we tired of sartorial metaphors yet?”

IMAGE: Melania Trump, British Prime Minister Theresa May and her husband Philip May watch a military band at Blenheim Palace ahead of a dinner with business leaders at Blenheim Palace. Photograph: Will Oliver - WPA Pool/Getty Images

As the US first couple ascended the stairs to the palace, Trump once again clasped May’s hand, while Melania walked hand-in-hand with May’s husband Philip.

Blenheim Palace is the only palace in Britain that neither the monarchy nor the church own.

The US president is on a seven-day, three-nation European trip.

Trump arrived in the UK for his working visit after concluding the two-day NATO Summit in Brussels.

-- With inputs from ANI, Agencies

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