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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 June 2018

Trump and May speak for first time since Twitter spat

The two leaders discussed progress on economic measures affecting both countries

Donald Trump speaks to Britain's PM Theresa May at the NATO headquarters during a NATO summit. Reuters/Thierry Charlier
Donald Trump speaks to Britain's PM Theresa May at the NATO headquarters during a NATO summit. Reuters/Thierry Charlier

British prime minister Theresa May spoke to Donald Trump on Tuesday for the first time since the row exploded between the pair of them over the president retweeting posts from a far-right political in the UK.

According to Downing Street, Mrs May “began by offering her condolences over the loss of life in the terrible train crash in Washington state” which claimed three lives after a train derailed and crashed into a highway.

The pair also discussed the different positions that the two countries had taken on the recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, and “agreed on the importance of the US bringing forward new proposals for peace and the international community supporting these efforts.”

Mrs May also raised the issue of the war in Yemen, “highlighting Britain’s ongoing deep concerns at the humanitarian situation.” The two leaders then agreed on the “vital importance of reopening humanitarian and commercial access to prevent famine and alleviate the suffering of innocent Yemenis.”

The recent “good progress of the Brexit negotiations” was also discussed by the two leaders, and the president set out the progress he had made on his economic agenda, including the tax cut programme that appears to be on the verge of progressing through Congress.

In a boost for the beleaguered British leader, Mr Trump agreed with her on the importance of a swift post-Brexit bilateral trade deal.

The apparent bonhomie was in stark contrast to the froideur that descended in British and American relations at the end of November. Mr Trump shared three posts from the deputy leader of the nationalist political group Britain First, prompting criticism from the British prime minister.

Mr Trump responded with a barbed comment about his British counterpart’s handling of terrorism in the United Kingdom. A subsequent debate in the House of Commons saw the American president labelled a “fascist” and “stupid”, and he was accused of “spreading evil” and told he was “racist, incompetent or unthinking or all three” by British MPs.

The leaders of Britain First were yesterday suspended from Twitter, and pressure is growing on Facebook to remove their presence from that platform.