Tillerson visits London embassy after Trump snub
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson paid a discreet visit to the new U.S. embassy in London on Jan. 22, after President Donald Trump cancelled plans to open it himself following a series of rows.
Tillerson bucked tradition by not holding a formal meet-and-greet at the new embassy, which the State Department claimed was due to the current shutdown of the US government over a budget impasse in Congress.
But even before the shutdown, the State Department had already played down Tillerson’s visit to the embassy, which opened last week, due to controversy over Trump’s refusal to inaugurate the new building.
The president claimed it was because he was unhappy at the cost and location of the new embassy. But the decision came after a series of rows that have damaged the so-called “special relationship” between the two nations and after it became clear the visit would be met with mass protests.
“The purpose of the trip is to underscore our commitment to the transatlantic alliance,” said a State Department spokesman.
“First stop is the United Kingdom, where the secretary will reaffirm the U.S.-U.K. special relationship.”Tillerson posed for photographs before being shown around the new building.Trump had been due to inaugurate the building in February, but cancelled the visit, tweeting: “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. Bad deal. Wanted me to cut ribbon-NO!”.The new building is slightly outside central London in a neighborhood south of the River Thames, unlike its predecessor, which was in the heart of the British capital.