- President Donald Trump confirmed that he is cancelling his trip to London for the opening of a new US embassy.
- Trump said he didn’t want to take part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony due to what he described as a “bad” real-estate deal for the new embassy, which was made during President Barack Obama’s tenure.
- Previous reports suggest that the construction of the new embassy was completely funded “by the sale of other properties in London.”
“Reason I canceled my trip to London is that I am not a big fan of the Obama Administration having sold perhaps the best located and finest embassy in London for ‘peanuts,’ only to build a new one in an off location for 1.2 billion dollars,” Trump said in a Thursday night tweet
“Bad deal,” Trump continued. “Wanted me to cut ribbon-NO!”
Trump appeared to be referencing the United States Embassy in Grosvenor Square, London, a concrete building in a ritzy neighbourhood. The original building was in an area that had been viewed as a potential terrorist target, according to a June 2015 New York Times report.
“It didn’t matter whether they lived in an 18th-century house or on a 20th-century street corner,” Lois Peltz, the head of the neighbourhood group, said in the newspaper’s report at the time. “They knew that if a bomb went off, they would have had it.”
In addition to increased safety at the new embassy location in the Nine Elms district on the South Bank of the Thames, the building better accommodates its 1,000 employees, who occupied the old building that was only meant for 800, according to The Times.
Other reports suggest that the relocation of the embassy was not a lopsided real-estate deal. The US State Department in 2008 hosted a competition for the new building’s design, Reuters reported. The billion-dollar structure was completely funded “by the sale of other properties in London,” the Reuters report said.
Trump was rumoured to be considering cancelling the UK trip earlier Thursday. Political observers noted that the move could also be motivated by the possibility of demonstrators protesting Trump’s visit. One YouGov survey found some 55% of British people who were polled were not interested in hosting the US president.
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