The new US embassy in London will open January
16.
KIERAN
TIMBERLAKE

  • President Donald Trump blamed his decision not to visit
    the UK on a “bad deal” negotiated by the Obama
    administration.
  • The US embassy in London says the plan to the finance a
    new embassy goes back to the George W. Bush
    administration.
  • London Mayor Sadiq Khan said that Trump would have been
    met by mass peaceful protests if he came to the UK.
  • British Prime Minister Theresa May will tell Trump he
    is still welcome in London, according to a Downing Street
    spokesperson.

The US embassy in London has responded to US
President Donald Trump after he described the new £750
million embassy in Battersea, which opens January 16, as a “bad
deal.”

On Friday, Trump cancelled a February trip to the UK to open
the new embassy. He blamed the cancelled visit on the “off
location” of the new embassy, which is moving from Grosvenor
Square in Mayfair to Nine Elms, south of the Thames.

He said the embassy was sold for “peanuts” in a poor deal
negotiated by his predecessor Obama’s administration.

On Friday evening, a US embassy spokesman hit back at the
president’s claims. He said the plan to finance the project was
developed in 2007, at a time when George W. Bush was in the White
House.

“The US chancery in Grosvenor Square had aged beyond its ability
to be improved to current security and life safety standards
without extensive investment in infrastructure that would require
appropriated dollars,” he said.

“In 2007, the department developed a plan to finance a new
embassy project through a property swap for existing US
government property in London.

“This solution allowed construction of a new chancery that meets
all security standards, yet used no taxpayer dollars to fund the
project.”

The spokesman said the budget was approximately one billion
dollars (£730 million) and includes the site purchase, design,
and construction costs.

He added: “The project has been executed within the established
budget. The search for a new embassy site in London considered
more than 50 sites.

“A multi-disciplinary team of professionals considered over 170
criteria, to include physical security requirements, and
determined that the Nine Elms site was the best overall location
for the US government.

“The new embassy in Nine Elms is one of the most secure, hi-tech,
and environmentally-friendly embassies the United States has ever
built.

US Embassy Londonthe new embassy is a 12-story glass cube without
visible walls.
Associated
Press

“We are strongly committed in the special relationship between
our two countries and we are confident the new embassy will
provide the necessary platform to continue our cooperation.”

Mr Trump’s tweet which sparked the row read: “Reason I cancelled
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.

Sadiq Khan said the US president had “got the
message” from Londoners and would have been met by “mass
peaceful protests” if he went ahead with plans to open the new
embassy.

His comments sparked criticism from Foreign Secretary Boris
Johnson, who accused the Mayor of London of endangering the
so-called “special relationship.”

There was initially confusion as Downing Street was unable to say
whether the Foreign Secretary was speaking for the Government
when he said Mr Khan and Jeremy Corbyn were putting the “crucial
relationship at risk.”

A Number 10 source said: “Boris expresses himself in his own
inimitable way, but we agree that any risk to the crucial US-UK
relationship is not in our country’s best interests.”

A Downing Street spokesman said Mrs May would tell Mr Trump he is
welcome in London.

Asked about the PM’s views on south London after the president
described the embassy’s new site as an “off location,” the Number
10 spokesman said: “I think Vauxhall is a vibrant and important
part of London and home to many businesses. Obviously Apple are
moving their headquarters there.”

The spokesman added: “A state visit (invitation) has been
extended and accepted and we will confirm the details in due
course.

Read the original article on Evening Standard. Copyright 2018. Follow Evening Standard on Twitter.

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