US, UK to Maintain “Special Relationship”

UK Premier Theresa May becomes the first foreign leader to meet US President Donald Trump to discuss Russia, NATO and torture
US President Donald Trump (R) and British Prime Minister Theresa May meet at the White House, Washington, on Jan. 27. US President Donald Trump (R) and British Prime Minister Theresa May meet at the White House, Washington, on Jan. 27.

US President Donald Trump on Friday pledged America’s “lasting support” with Britain after he emerged from his first meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May, a leader hoping to nudge the populist president toward the political mainstream.

May, who said the meeting gave the two a chance to build a relationship, announced that Trump had accepted an invitation from Queen Elizabeth II for a state visit later this year with his wife, First Lady Melania Trump, France24 reported.

Standing alongside May in the ornate White House East Room, Trump said, the United States and the United Kingdom have “one of the great bonds”.

“We pledge our lasting support to this most special relationship,” Trump said during brief opening remarks. “Together, America and the United Kingdom are a beacon for prosperity and the rule of law.”

May congratulated Trump on what she called his “decisive victory” and thanked the president for inviting her to visit so soon after his inauguration last Friday, saying their meeting was an indication of the strength and importance of maintaining good relations between the trans-Atlantic allies.

She said there was “much on which we agree”, adding that Trump had given strong backing to NATO, an alliance that the US president has previously called obsolete, raising fears that the US might not come to the aid of countries that don’t meet targets for their own defense spending. 

May’s comments were meant to put those concerns to rest.

  Different Positions on Russia

While May took a tough stance when asked about sanctions on Russia, insisting they won’t be lifted until the Minsk ceasefire agreement has been fully implemented in Ukraine, Trump did not go as far, saying it is still “very early to be talking about that”.

The new American leader, who is due to speak with his Russian counterpart in a telephone call on Saturday, said he hoped to forge a “fantastic relationship” with Vladimir Putin. 

“We’ll see what happens,” he added.

May’s meeting with the president is being hailed by the British government as a sign that the trans-Atlantic “special relationship” is valued by the new administration.

She has strong reasons for wanting the relationship to work. Britain is set to leave the European Union and its 500 million-person single market. A trade deal with the US, Britain’s biggest export market, is a major prize.

  Stance on Torture

Pressed about his stance on torture, Trump–who, since taking office, has signaled a renewed embrace of the practice in the fight against terror-said he would defer to the views of his defense secretary, James Mattis, who has questioned the effectiveness of waterboarding, which simulates drowning.

“He has stated publicly that he does not necessarily believe in torture or waterboarding, or however you want to define it—enhanced interrogation I guess would be a word that a lot of ... words that a lot of people would like to use. I don’t necessarily agree. But I would tell you that he will override because I’m giving him that power. He’s an expert,” he said. 

Trump called Mattis a “general’s general”, whom he would rely upon.

“I happen to feel that it does work. I’ve been open about that for a long period of time. But I am going with our leaders. And we’re going to win with or without. But I do disagree.”

Add new comment

Read our comment policy before posting your viewpoints