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  HOME | USA

UK PM May, USís Trump to Meet at Davos, Switzerland, amid Strained Relations

DAVOS, Switzerland Ė The United Kingdomís Prime Minister Theresa May is set to meet US President Donald Trump at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Thursday for a discussion clouded by public strain between their two countries, according to a report from Dow Jones.

The meeting at the summit in Switzerland will be the first since May was made aware that Trump had abruptly called off a planned trip to London earlier this month and put the UK leader in a tight spot.

ďItís a special relationship not only in words, but itís how we work together, really, on every issue,Ē White House National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said. ďIt is very, very hard to find any place where our interests donít overlap almost completely with those of the UK.Ē

May needs Trumpís support as the UK leaves the European Union and seeks to build economic relations with the US.

But she also has publicly admonished him and sought to avoid the political fallout of appearing too close to a leader who is unpopular in her home country, including within her Conservative Party.

The UK leader is expected to tread a careful path, Dow Jones added in its report.

In her speech in Davos last year, May implicitly rebuked Trump with a strong defense of globalization and free trade.

This year, May is instead expected to urge technology companies to do more to crack down on extremist material, according to excerpts of her speech sent by her office.

Downing Street, the UK PMís office, has said the special relationship between the UK and the US is long and enduring.

McMaster earlier this week sought to play down tensions, emphasizing that the relationship between the US and the UK remains ďspecialĒ and that the president was prioritizing his meeting with May, the first of his four bilateral meetings with foreign leaders in Davos.

In their meeting, the leaders are expected to discuss the nearly seven-year conflict in Syria, the Iran nuclear deal and denuclearization in North Korea, McMaster said.

Trump was one of the few world leaders to support Brexit, and May wants to secure a quick and favorable trade deal with the US to show that Britain can make up for the costs of leaving the blocís free trade zone.

After Trumpís inauguration, May became the first foreign leader to meet him.

They briefly held hands and spoke warmly about the relationship between the UK and the US and May extended to Trump an invitation for a state visit to London, one of the highest honors issued to a foreign leader.

Downing Street says the invitation still stands, even after British Parliament debated whether it should go ahead after he called for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the US.

A series of disagreements between May and Trump escalated into a Twitter spat in November, Dow Jones added.

After May said he was wrong to share anti-Islam videos posted by anti-immigrant group Britain First, he hit back.

ďDonít focus on me, focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom. We are doing just fine!Ē Trump said on Twitter.

Earlier this month, Trump said he was canceling his trip to London because he wasnít happy with the deal the US made to move its embassy.

Some UK politicians, including London Mayor Sadiq Khan, celebrated Trumpís decision not to come to London, but Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson this month defended him in a column for the Sunday Telegraph newspaper, saying the UK should welcome the US president to preserve the crucial economic relationship between Britain and the US.

In her Davos speech, May is expected to say that she wants to put pressure on technology companies to automatically remove terrorist and extremist content from their platforms.

In the wake of Britainís five terrorist attacks in 2017, May has singled out Silicon Valley for not doing more to stop terrorists from using the internet to communicate with and recruit followers.

ďThese companies simply cannot stand by while their platforms are used to facilitate child abuse, modern slavery or the spreading of terrorist and extremist content,Ē May is expected to say, according to Dow Jones.

 

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