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UK-US relationship is still ‘strong’, PM says ahead of Trump meeting

Theresa May and the US president will meet for the first time since clashing over his sharing of videos posted by far-right group Britain First.

Theresa May has insisted Britain’s relationship with the United States is still “strong” despite her recent clash with Donald Trump.

Ahead of talks with the president on Thursday, the Prime Minister also stressed both the UK and US are “keen” to do a free trade deal after Brexit and are already working on the “shape” of an agreement.

Mrs May was speaking from the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, where she will meet Mr Trump for the first time since they clashed over the US president’s retweeting of anti-Muslim videos posted by UK-based far-right group Britain First.

Their talks also come after the US president cancelled plans for a visit to Britain to open the new American embassy in London, complaining the new building was a “bad deal”, although reports suggested he called off the trip because he had “not been shown enough love” by the British Government.

Ahead of their meeting, the PM said Mr Trump would visit the UK “in due course”.

On BBC News, she went on: “That relationship between the UK and America is strong as it ever has been.

“What I want to be talking to the president about and will be talking to him about is a whole range of foreign policy areas where we face shared challenges and are working together.

“So, whether it’s working together in relation to North Korea to stop them from their illegal activity in relation to ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons, whether it’s working together in Syria and Iraq where great strides have been made in relation to dealing with Daesh (Islamic State), or whether it’s working together to reduce the destabilising activities of Iran in the region.

“Free trade is a topic that I have discussed with the president in the past, we’re very keen that we’ll be able to do that free trade agreement when we leave the European Union with the United States of America – they’re keen on that, we’re keen on that and we’re already working on how we can shape that.”

Before her meeting with Mr Trump, Mrs May will deliver a high-profile Davos speech in which she will tell financial investors to consider the social impact of tech companies before putting money in.

The PM’s comments are intended to ratchet up pressure on social media giants to ensure their sites are not used as platforms for terrorist propaganda and child abuse.

Mrs May will promise to put the UK at the forefront of efforts to improve ordinary people’s lives with new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI).

However, she will say that, like any business, tech companies need to take their responsibilities to society seriously.

She will warn them that, unless they take action to remove illicit material, they risk becoming known as “the terrorists’ platform” or “the first-choice app for paedophiles”.

Social media firms have made progress in taking down extremist footage since she joined French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian PM Paolo Gentiloni in demanding action at the United Nations last September, Mrs May will acknowledge.

She will warn: “Technology companies still need to go further in stepping up to their responsibilities for dealing with harmful and illegal online activity.

“These companies simply cannot stand by while their platforms are used to facilitate child abuse, modern slavery or the spreading of terrorist and extremist content.”

She will add: “Investors can make a big difference here by ensuring trust and safety issues are being properly considered. I urge them to do so.”

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