Trump and UK’s May discuss Jerusalem, agree on importance of US-led peace effort
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Trump and UK’s May discuss Jerusalem, agree on importance of US-led peace effort

While Palestinians say they want nothing to do with any American initiative, British leader backs president on need for 'US bringing forward new proposals'

US President Donald Trump shakes hands with British Prime Minister Theresa May in the Oval Office of the White House on January 27, 2017. (AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
US President Donald Trump shakes hands with British Prime Minister Theresa May in the Oval Office of the White House on January 27, 2017. (AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

WASHINGTON — A Downing Street offical said US President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May spoke Tuesday morning for the first time since she condemned the American leader’s Twitter habits.

A spokesperson described the call as warm and said the pair discussed Trump’s recent decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, which May had previously called “unhelpful.” They also discussed the dire humanitarian situation in Yemen and the ongoing Brexit negotiations.

“They discussed the different positions we took on the recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, and agreed on the importance of the US bringing forward new proposals for peace and the international community supporting these efforts,” the spokesman said.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has said he wants nothing to do with any new Trump-led peace effort, since the US president recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on December 6.

Trump’s sharing of unverified videos distributed by a far-right group Britain First claiming to depict violence perpetrated by Muslim immigrants in Europe sparked a row at the end of November in the special relationship between the trans-Atlantic powers. A spokesman for May last month rebuked Trump, saying he was “wrong” to have shared the videos, prompting Trump to lash back at the prime minister.

“The prime minister updated the president on the recent good progress of the Brexit negotiations, and the president set out the progress he had made on his economic agenda,” the spokesman added.

“They agreed on the importance of a swift post-Brexit bilateral trade deal.”

A White House official, who was not authorized to discuss the call on the record, said the tweets did not come up during their call.

The Daily Mail reported that May has sent Trump a Christmas card, though Downing Street will not say if she has received one in return from the US leader.

Earlier Tuesday, May chaired the first detailed cabinet discussion on Britain’s future trade ties, after European Union leaders last week approved an interim agreement on the terms of their separation, and agreed to move talks on to trade next year.

London wants to secure “the best possible trading terms with the EU” that enable Britain “to set rules that are right for our situation and facilitates ambitious third-country trade deals,” Downing Street said after the meeting.

Days after the Twitter row erupted, in an address December 6 from the White House, Trump defied worldwide warnings and insisted that after repeated failures to achieve peace, a new approach was long overdue, describing his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the seat of Israel’s government as merely based on reality.

The move was hailed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and by leaders across much of the Israeli political spectrum. Trump stressed that he was not specifying the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in the city, and called for no change in the status quo at the city’s holy sites.

Trump is scheduled to visit Britain in February when he will open the new American embassy building.

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