UPDATE 1-Trump says his meeting with grieving British family was 'beautiful' but 'sad'

  • In US
  • 2019-10-16 17:32:14Z
  • By Reuters

(Updates with Trump comment, parents' U.S. TV interview on Wednesday, changes dateline to WASHINGTON)

WASHINGTON, Oct 16 (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday his meeting with the parents of a man killed when his motorbike collided in England with a car driven by a U.S. diplomat's wife, was "sad" but "beautiful," but the family said it felt pressure to allow the American woman to join the session.

Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn, parents of Harry Dunn, the 19-year-old who died in the August crash, had been invited on Tuesday to the White House, where they said they learned that Anne Sacoolas, the woman fled Britain after the fatal crash, was in the building.

During the meeting, Trump asked the parents two or three times to meet with Sacoolas, Dunn told "CBS This Morning," but they declined, saying they wanted her to return to Britain to meet with them.

Dunn's parents said Trump had been responsive during their meeting but the planned encounter with Sacoolas had come as a bombshell. "There was a bit of pressure, but we stuck to our guns," he said.

Later Trump told reporters he had expressed condolences on behalf of the United States.

The meeting was "beautiful in a certain way" and "very sad, to be honest," said Trump, speaking to reporters at the White House on Wednesday ahead of an Oval Office meeting with Italian President Sergio Mattarella.

"I offered to bring the person in question in, and they weren't ready for it," the president said. "I know the people were lovely, they were very nice and they were desperately sad."

Trump suggested that the idea of bringing Dunn's parents and Sacoolas together came from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

"I spoke with Boris," Trump told reporters. "He asked me if I'd do that, and I did it."

The parents want Sacoolas, who left Britain under a disputed claim of diplomatic immunity, to return to England to speak to the police. Through her lawyers, Sacoolas said she was "devastated" and was willing to meet Dunn's family.

"We've said all along we are willing to meet her, but it has to be with therapists and mediators. And that's not just for us; it's for her as well," Charles told CBS. "To be thrown into a room together with no prior warning, that's not good for her mental health, and it's certainly not good for ours."

Harry Dunn died in August in the accident near RAF Croughton, an air force base in Northamptonshire in central England used by the U.S. military.

While Trump and his national security adviser, Robert O'Brien, had ruled out Sacoolas returning to Britain, Charles said Trump had taken her hand and promised to try to look at the issue from another angle.

The Dunn family's lawyer, Mark Stephens, told BBC Radio that offer had left open the opportunity for a political solution.

"We have said for a long time the family needs to meet, they need to meet in private, away from the media and not curated by politicians, spies or indeed lawyers," he said.

"Most sensible folk and not a nincompoop in a hurry would understand that." (Reporting by Steve Holland in Washington, Barbara Goldberg in New York and Michael Holden in London; Writing by Frank McGurty; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)


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