Trump hails ‘special relationship’ with UK in joint news conference with PM May

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump hailed the “special relationship” between the United States and the United Kingdom alongside his British counterpart Friday, saying the bond “has been one of the great forces of history.”

Prime Minister Theresa May underscored the sentiment, saying Queen Elizabeth II invited Trump for a state visit later this year.

“Our relationship has never been stronger,” Trump said in opening remarks to a joint news conference.

He said both he and May were adamant that governments “be responsive to everyday working people” and show respect for their citizens.

The joint appearance caps a turbulently productive seven days in office for Trump.

After rapid-clip executive actions during his first working week, Trump may face questions about the implications of his moves, which include reauthorizing the Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines and ordering the federal government to begin constructing a wall along the US-Mexico border.

Details on how to pay for the wall are slim, however, and the White House on Thursday only fostered uncertainty when Trump’s spokesman raised the possibility of a 20% import tax, only to later suggest the tariff was merely one of several proposals.

Trump has conceded in interviews this week the wall would be initially funded by the US, only to be reimbursed at a later point by Mexico. Trump repeatedly promised on the campaign trail that Mexico would pay for the wall. He could weigh in further Friday.

Trump this week also withdrew the US from the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal, vowing instead to pursue one-on-one trade plans with individual nations. Trump and Theresa May both say they hope to begin work toward their own bilateral trade agreement during Oval Office talks on Friday, but details of such an agreement are still far off.

Trump is a vocal proponent of Britain’s exit from the European Union, and Brexit negotiations were likely to arise during Friday’s news conference.

For Trump, the event is an opportunity to fully capitalize on his new office, trading the lobby of Trump Tower — the site of his last fiery news conference — for the iconic gold curtains and presidential podium in the East Room.

Vastly different in persona, the bombastic Trump and the more sober May will provide a juxtaposition of diplomatic approaches in their joint appearance. May and Trump both took office on a wave of populism, but deep differences remain between the pair. Trump’s vow to revive torture practices, including waterboarding, could prove divisive for the two leaders.

Like presidents before him, Trump is expected to take two questions from American reporters, while May will take two questions herself from a UK media contingent. Typically, the US president also weighs in on the foreign journalists’ questions.

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