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Being first to hold talks with Trump 'biggest statement' about women, says PM

Being the first world leader to hold talks with Donald Trump in the Oval Office is the "biggest statement" she can make about the global role of women, Theresa May has said.

The Prime Minister will visit the United States' president on Friday for talks on a potential UK-US post-Brexit free trade deal, and global issues like tackling terrorism, the Syrian civil war, relations with Russia and the role of Nato.

Downing Street said the meeting would mainly be an opportunity to "get to know one another" and "establish the basis for a productive working relationship".

Mrs May stressed she will tell Mr Trump when she finds his behaviour "unacceptable" - a criticism she has already levelled at him over his suggestion that his fame allowed him to grab women "by the pussy".

The president's numerous highly controversial remarks about women inspired more than a million people to join anti-Trump women's marches in Britain, the US and around the world on Saturday.

Asked if she would raise the issue at their White House meeting, Mrs May told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show: "I have already said that some of the comments that Donald Trump has made in relation to women are unacceptable, some of those he himself has apologised for.

"When I sit down I think the biggest statement that will be made about the role of women is the fact that I will be there as a female Prime Minister, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, directly talking to him about the interests that we share."

She said she was "proud" to be the second female PM, adding: "I will be talking to Donald Trump about the issues that we share - about how we can build on the special relationship, it's the special relationship that also enables us to say when we do find things unacceptable."

Mrs May added: "Whenever there is something that I find unacceptable, I will say that to Donald Trump."

She insisted Mr Trump was looking for "early" talks on a free trade deal despite concerns over his "America first" strategy.

The PM has also spoken of reducing barriers to trade before a formal deal can be reached after Brexit, amid reports of moves to set up a "passporting" system for transatlantic banking.

Mrs May suggested her trip would be followed by a state visit by Mr Trump, which would include an audience with the Queen and the pomp and pageantry of which the president seems so fond.

"I would look forward to welcoming President Trump here to the United Kingdom some time this year if that's possible, but of course in terms of state visits that's a matter for Buckingham Palace and they haven't announced the visits this year yet," she said.

The Prime Minister will travel to the US on Thursday when she will become the first foreign serving head of state or government to address the annual congressional Republican retreat, when it gathers for its 30th anniversary in Philadelphia.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn urged Mrs May to directly criticise Mr Trump's misogyny and his call for Muslims to be banned from the US.

And he warned her to be "extremely careful" in negotiating a free trade deal.

"The idea that Donald Trump is suddenly going to roll over and offer some trade deal with Britain that doesn't have strings attached, like investor protection where American companies can come in and run parts of our health service and be protected in doing so - I think she needs to be extremely careful," Mr Corbyn told Sky News' Sophy Ridge on Sunday.

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