CHICAGO -- With Mayor Rahm Emanuel by his side, London Mayor Sadiq Khan rode a water taxi on the Chicago River Friday morning and took in some of the city's treasured sights. But Khan's visit is more than just a sight-seeing tour.
In the wake of Great Britian's vote to exit the European Union in June, also known at Brexit, Mayor Khan wants it known that London is still open for business. Khan led a delegation to Chicago to meet with Mayor Emanuel and local business leaders.
Both mayors are looking at ways to promote economic growth and job creation in such a way that protects the environment, said Mayor Emanuel. To that end, they also strolled Chicago's newly-developed Riverwalk, with Khan interested in seeing how the city plans to further develop the sight.
But the topic turned to politics when a reporter asked Khan, London's first-ever Muslim mayor, about Republican candidate for president Donald Trump and his controversial remarks about Muslim immigrants and the U.S.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Khan said Trump represented the views of "extremists" by trying to say that mainstream believers in the Muslim religion cannot hold Western values.
"Well there's rumors circulating that one of the reasons why I was keen to come to the USA before January, was because I would not be allowed after January. I've been told that's no longer his policy, but look -- we have shown in America, London and else where, it's possible to be a mainstream Muslim and to hold Western liberal values. It's not incompatible to be a Westerner and to be a Muslim," Khan said.
Later at Chicago's 1871 Center for Technology and Entrepreneurship at the Merchandise Mart Plaza, both men signed a data-sharing agreement to make it easier to conduct business across the Atlantic Ocean. There are scores of Chicago and London businesses deeply engaged in commerce.
The mayors planned to visit a soon-to-be-opened Whole Foods Market in Chicago's Englewood neighborhood on the South Side. Mayor Emanuel will then host a dinner for Mayor Khan at the Art Institute of Chicago, catered by celebrity chef Graham Elliott.