Rex Tillerson reiterates US support for 'special relationship' following spat between Theresa May and Donald Trump

The US Secretary of State said his country 'treasures' links to the UK

Joe Watts
Political Editor
Monday 22 January 2018 17:27
Comments
UK and US emphasise 'special relationship' as Rex Tillerson meets Boris Johnson

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has underlined how the White House continues to “treasure” links with the UK, following a difficult period for relations between Theresa May and Donald Trump.

Mr Tillerson said Washington does see its connection with London as a “special relationship”, adding that sometimes the two sides “forget” its importance.

It comes days before Ms May was meant to meet Mr Trump at the World Economic Forum in Davos, for what some have claimed would be a “clear the air” meeting, though the appointment is now in doubt.

The two leaders have taken conspicuously different positions on major issues recently including Mr Trump’s decision to relocate the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, while they also clashed after the President promoted online anti-Islamic material from a British far-right group.

Speaking after he had met Ms May and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Mr Tillerson said: "We also view this as the special relationship. It has been and will be.

"We spend a lot of time talking about the world's problems. Sometimes we forget about the importance of our own relationship.

"We treasure this relationship. I treasure Boris's relationship with me personally."

Mr Johnson echoed Mr Tillerson's support for the special relationship, saying: "It is always worth saying that the relationship between the US and the UK is absolutely fundamental to our diplomacy but also to our economy.”

Their meeting takes place amid reports that the President is unhappy after the Prime Minister publicly criticised him last year for retweeting inflammatory videos posted by the far-right Britain First group.

Mr Trump unexpectedly announced that he would not be travelling to London for the opening of the new US Embassy building in February.

Ms May was expected to meet Mr Trump in Switzerland this week, but the White House said the whole trip may have to be cancelled as the President is fighting to pass a critical domestic funding measure through Congress.

Both Mr Johnson and Mr Tillerson called for “restraint” on all sides following the incursion by Turkish forces into northern Syria, where they are attacking Kurdish fighters supported by Britain and the US.

Donald Trump's major u-turns since becoming President

A Downing Street spokesman said: "The Prime Minister attended a part of the National Security Adviser's meeting with the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at 10 Downing Street today.

"They discussed the continuing depth and breadth of the special relationship.

"They agreed on the importance of the international community coming together to counter Iran's destabilising regional activity, and the Prime Minister reiterated the UK's commitment to the Iran nuclear deal."

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