World

UK regrets leaked memos criticising Trump administration

LONDON : Britain said yesterday it had contacted Washington to express regret for the leak of confidential memos in which its ambassador described US President Donald Trump's administration as "dysfunctional" and "inept".

The memos from Mr Kim Darroch, ambassador to Washington, were divulged to a Sunday newspaper, annoying Mr Trump and embarrassing London.

"Contact has been made with the Trump administration, setting out our view that we believe the leak is unacceptable," Prime Minister Theresa May's spokesman told reporters.

"It is, of course, a matter of regret that this has happened."

Trade Minister Liam Fox, who is visiting Washington, told BBC radio he would apologise to Mr Trump's daughter Ivanka, whom he is due to meet.

"I will be apologising for the fact that either our civil service or elements of our political class have not lived up to the expectations that either we have or the United States has about their behaviour, which in this particular case has lapsed in a most extraordinary and unacceptable way," he said.

"Malicious leaks of this nature... can actually lead to a damage to that relationship, which can therefore affect our wider security interest."

The revelations come at a time when Britain is hoping to strike a major trade deal with its closest ally after it leaves the European Union.

Mr Trump told reporters, of Mr Darroch: "We are not big fans of that man and he has not served the UK well, so I can understand and I can say things about him but I won't bother."

In confidential memos to his government dating from 2017 to the present, Mr Darroch said reports of in-fighting in the White House were "mostly true" and last month described confusion within the administration over Mr Trump's decision to call off a military strike on Iran.

Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt said: "I have made it clear that I don't share the ambassador's assessment... but I do defend his right to make that frank assessment."

He promised "serious consequences" for whoever had leaked the memos. - REUTERS

WORLD