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British prime minister to visit Donald Trump in spring

British Prime Minister Theresa May
British Prime Minister Theresa May will visit Donald Trump this spring, following his inauguration as US president, Downing Street announced on Thursday.

May's joint chiefs of staff Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill travelled to the US last month to meet Trump's team. 

"This was part of a process leading towards the PM's first visit with President-elect Trump," a Downing Street spokesman told AFP.

"During the second phone call with President-elect Trump, the prime minister suggested it would be a good idea for key staff from both teams to meet. President-elect Trump agreed this would be useful."

May had previously spoken to Trump following his election in November, during which he invited her to visit "as soon as possible". 

The prime minister's office said the visit was secured after her aides met with Trump's team.

"We are pleased to have been able to make that happen and the prime minister looks forward to visiting the new president in the spring," the spokesman said.

The British government would not confirm a date for the visit, which Sky News reported as scheduled for February.

Trump is due to be sworn in as US president on January 20.

Following the US election the first call between the pair reaffirmed the "very special" relationship between their two countries, while May emphasised their "long history of shared values" and of standing together "when it counts the most", her office said.

May at the time emphasised her wish to strengthen trade and investment with the US as Britain leaves the European Union following a June 2016 referendum on membership of the bloc.

Maintaining strong ties to Washington could help London as it faces economic uncertainty outside the EU, although so far Trump has not been viewed as making Britain a priority.

Commentators were quick to question why he waited more than 24 hours after his election before calling the British premier. Trump's relationship with a key right-wing UK politician has also proven unsettling for the establishment. 

Nigel Farage, former leader of the UK Independence Party, had joined Trump during his election bid and in November became the first British politician to meet him after the vote. 

The meeting was an upset for the British government and worsened still when Trump tweeted that Farage "would do a great job" as Britain's ambassador to the US.

Downing Street and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson both stressed that there was "no vacancy".

Source: AFP

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