Tillerson, not Trump, to visit London next week
WASHINGTON - Agence France-Presse
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said he hopes to visit the new U.S. embassy in London next week, shortly after President Donald Trump refused to attend its opening ceremony.
Tillerson will be in Britain on Jan. 22 at the start of a sweep through Europe that will take him on to Paris, Warsaw, and the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
His meetings in each city have not been finalized, State Department officials said, but the secretary himself told reporters on Wednesday that he hopes to see the embassy.
Tillerson told reporters that his British host, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, was preparing a packed agenda for him “but I hope to get by the embassy.”
Washington’s new mission in London opened with little fanfare on Tuesday after a 10-year moving process, with a total price tag of around one billion dollars.
Some reports had suggested that Trump would attend the opening, but the president angrily dismissed that idea last week in one of his trademark Twitter outbursts.
“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 wrote.
“Bad deal. Wanted me to cut ribbon - NO!”
The U.S. embassy said the project had been developed in 2007, before Barack Obama took office, and executed “within the established budget.”
In London, Tillerson will meet Johnson and national security adviser Mark Sedwill to discuss cooperation in resolving the crises in Iran, Syria, Libya, North Korea and Ukraine.
On Jan. 23, in Paris he will meet senior French officials on the same issues, then spend two days in Davos shadowing Trump at his first visit to the global elite’s business forum.