President Donald Trump said he wouldn't visit London next month to open a new U.S. embassy because his predecessor, Barack Obama, made a "bad deal" selling the previous site.
"Reason I canceled 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," Trump said on Twitter. "Bad deal. Wanted me to cut ribbon-NO!"
Trump's move was reported late Thursday by British media. The Guardian newspaper said he decided not to come amid fears of mass protests, and would instead send Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to open the embassy. The BBC said Downing Street has declined to comment on the move, but was considering options for state visit later in the year.
Relations between the U.S. and its closest ally have been repeatedly strained since last January, when Trump took office and U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May became the first foreign leader to meet him at the White House. May's invitation for Trump to visit the Queen has faced growing opposition, fueled in part by the president's Twitter criticism of London Mayor Sadiq Khan and retweets of propaganda from a far-right British anti-Muslim group.
May told the BBC earlier this month that Trump would be making a visit to Britain, without giving a time frame.
The new site had been scheduled to open during Obama's term, but delays pushed back its formal opening until this year. The State Department agreed to sell the existing embassy building on Grosvenor Square, Mayfair, to Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Co. in 2009 to fund the relocation. The investors have sought approval to turn the building into a hotel, according to the project's website.
Read Trump Says He Scrapped London Trip Over Obama's Embassy Deal on bloombergpolitics.com