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British govt, London mayor clash over Trump UK state visit

LONDON The British government yesterday stood by an invitation for United States President Donald Trump to make a state visit to the UK as London Mayor Sadiq Khan - under attack from the White House - said the offer should be scrapped.

"The invitation has been issued and accepted and I see no reason to change that," Foreign Minister Boris Johnson told BBC radio.

Prime Minister Theresa May, asked by The Sun newspaper whether the controversial trip would go ahead, answered "Yes."

But Mr Khan, in an interview with AFP, reiterated his view that the invitation was "premature".

"State visits are given to world leaders who have had distinguished service, who have a track record," he said.

"In the circumstances where Donald Trump as president had a Muslim ban, had changed the policies of the US, the longstanding policies around refugees, in the circumstances where many British people disagree with many of Donald Trump's policies, we shouldn't be having a state visit," he said.

Mr Khan said the US and Britain were "close allies" and they should continue to work closely together.

"But one of the things about a special relationship, it's like having a best friend - you stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them in times of adversity but you call them out when they're wrong, and you tell them when they are wrong. And I think on many, many things, Donald Trump is wrong," he said.

State visits are considered top-level events honouring visitors with banquets and an audience with Queen Elizabeth II.

Mrs May made the invitation to Mr Trump just seven days after he took office, a decision that prompted accusations that Britain, its global influence set to be weakened by Brexit, was kowtowing to the new US leader.

... in the circumstances where many British people disagree with many of Donald Trump’s policies, we shouldn’t be having a state visit. London Mayor Sadiq Khan

By contrast, Mrs May's predecessor David Cameron gave the invitation to then-president Barack Obama more than a year into his administration.

More than 1.8 million people have signed an online petition saying Mr Trump should not make the state visit as it "could cause embarrassment" to the monarch. - AFP

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