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'Bad deal': Trump cancels London trip after disapproval over new embassy's location and price tag

America's flag was lowered for the final time from former embassy in Grosvenor Square [Getty]

Date of publication: 12 January, 2018

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The president wrote that he was nixing the trip, initially scheduled for next month, because he is displeased with the location of the new embassy and its price tag.
US President Donald Trump said late Thursday he no longer plans to attend the opening of a new US embassy in London.

He announced the decision in a midnight tweet amid reports in Britain that a Trump visit would be met with protests.

The president wrote that he was nixing the trip, initially scheduled for next month, because he is displeased with the location of the new embassy and its price tag.

The new US embassy in London is located in a former post-industrial wasteland on the south side of the River Thames – a world away from its historic home in the capital's luxurious Mayfair district.

The US flag was lowered for the final time on Tuesday from the top of the former 600-room embassy in Grosvenor Square, where US General Dwight Eisenhower had his headquarters during World War Two.

The area became known as "Little America" at the time.

The modernist embassy building by Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen was completed in 1957 and sold in 2009 to Qatari Diar, the real estate investment arm of Qatar's government.

The price tag for the deal was never disclosed and Qatari Diar plans to turn it into a luxury hotel.

Ambassador Woody Johnson, a Trump appointee who owns the New York Jets American football team, called the lowering of the flag "a poignant moment".

But asked earlier about the prospect of Trump's visit, Johnson said he was looking forward to it, adding: "I think he will be very impressed with this building and the people who occupy it."

He said the new embassy was a "signal to the world that this special relationship that we have is stronger and is going to grow and get better".

Trump has been offered a full-blown state visit to Britain but no date has been set, amid jitters over protests.

British Prime Minister Theresa May was the first foreign leader to visit Trump following his inauguration in January, where she offered him a prestigious state visit to Britain including a welcome by Queen Elizabeth II.

But opposition to the invitation has only grown. Trump caused outrage in the UK in November after he retweeted three anti-Muslim videos posted by the deputy head of British neo-fascist group Britain First.

"President Trump used Twitter to promote a vile, extremist group that exists solely to sow division and hatred in our country," the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said in a statement.

"It beggars belief that the President of our closest ally doesn't see that his support for this extremist group actively undermines the values of tolerance and diversity."

The Mayor of London along with other MPs condemned Trump's apparent support for the aggressive far-right anti-Muslim group, and voiced opposition to the US president's impending state visit to Britain.

But as recently as January 7, May reiterated that a state visit is still planned, saying "Trump is coming to the UK."

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