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I've seen many US presidents meet PMs — here's what Trump wants

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29.05.2019

I have been present for many meetings between US presidents and UK prime ministers. They are never straightforward or predictable, and can be fiendishly stressful for those closely involved. The UK media look for any hint of presidential indifference — or, if that doesn’t stick, chumminess. Everything from the body language to the length of the press conference to the exchange of gifts is picked over for hidden meaning.

Visits succeed when both sides see a strong political incentive for them to do so: an upcoming election, ambitious shared foreign policy initiatives, or a common enemy. And where there is strong personal chemistry.

Evidently, therefore, next week’s state visit of Donald Trump will be challenging. Perhaps the most challenging in memory. Many on the British side hoped that an invitation given in haste would not be taken up in this presidential term. Watching the turmoil of UK politics over the past week, many on both sides have questioned whether the timing is still ideal.

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But as things stand, Air Force One will pull up on the tarmac on 3 June. Buckingham Palace have scheduled a discreet reception for the President, rather than the usual pomp and ceremony of Horse Guards Parade. Renovation of the Palace means that he won’t stay there. And security concerns prevent the offer of a ride down The Mall in a gold carriage, something........

© Independent