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Diplomats discuss Donald Trump state visit in May next year

Officials have discussed making the US president the first major visitor to the UK after Brexit.

Sir Mark Sedwill said it would be ‘worth having him here’ to coincide with Second World War commemorations (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Sir Mark Sedwill said it would be ‘worth having him here’ to coincide with Second World War commemorations (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Diplomats have discussed showering Donald Trump with the full pomp and ceremony of a state visit just weeks after the UK quits the European Union.

The US president would be the first leader to be given the honour after March 29 next year if the proposals discussed by Britain’s national security adviser and his US counterparts go ahead.

But preparations for his up-coming working visit in July are behind schedule as a result of the Singapore summit with North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong-un.

Senior embassy officials said they expect Melania to accompany Mr Trump, and for them to stay at least one night, but preparations are still being finalised.

Sir Mark Sedwill said it would be “worth having him here” to coincide with Second World War commemorations in “May next year”.

National Security Adviser Sir Mark Sedwill (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The diplomat is heard making the comment to US ambassador Woody Johnson at a reception to formally open the new embassy building in Vauxhall.

In a conversation captured in Channel 4 documentary Inside the American Embassy, Sir Mark says: “Let’s plan for a series of visits in his first term.”

After suggesting next May for the state visit, he adds: “The key thing is that we get him here.”

Mr Johnson replies: “Let’s get him here once. Once you get it then you know what you are dealing with.”

“Then you have broken the issue,” Sir Mark says.

The US ambassador urges the security adviser not to let “fear” about the visit “hold you back”.

The new US embassy in Nine Elms, London (John Stillwell/PA)

Sir Mark told the ambassador he had already had discussions with his former counterpart in Washington, ex-national security adviser HR McMaster and suggested making it “the first big visit after Brexit”.

Critics of the US President, including London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, have previously said Mr Trump should not come to the UK and large protests are expected for his upcoming working trip.

The three-part documentary was filmed over nine months and looks at the workings of the new embassy, which the president dismissed as being in an “off-location”.

Mr Johnson said he did not see enough confidence in Britain over Brexit and urged “don’t be pessimistic”.

“To see this defeatist attitude towards Brexit is a bit sorrowing to me,” he said.

Mr Johnson suggested the UK looks to Mr Trump and takes “some inspiration” from what he has achieved.

Woody Johnson, US Ambassador to the UK, at a reception to celebrate the US Embassy’s move to Nine Elms in south London (John Stillwell/PA)

Lew Lukens, deputy chief of mission, told reporters at the launch of the documentary that planning for Mr Trump’s visit on July 13 had been delayed by the Singapore summit.

He said: “Normally one month before a visit we would have a pretty good idea at this point of the schedule but we don’t in this case.

“The team from Washington from the White House that travels in advance of a visit to set up the programme was completely wrapped up with the Singapore summit, so they haven’t been here yet.

“We have a rough idea. He’ll meet the Prime Minister. We think there’ll be an engagement with the Queen but we don’t have any details at this point.”

Mr Lukens added: “We are focused right now on the first visit, which will be in about a month.

“Beyond that we do think the state visit will happen next year at same point, but beyond that we haven’t set a date.”



From Belfast Telegraph