WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Theresa May spoke for the first time since a row over his retweets of a British extremist group, addressing vexing questions about Brexit and Middle East peace on Tuesday.
The call came nearly a month after the two clashed over Trump’s tweets of “Britain First” anti-Muslim propaganda and hours after London took the unusual step of voting against Washington at the UN.
Britain was among 14 UN Security Council members who backed a resolution condemning Trump’s decision to unilaterally recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, leaving the US alone to veto.
“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,” a Downing Street spokesman said.
“The President and Prime Minister discussed next steps in forging peace in the Middle East,” the White House said.
There was no mention of the Twitter feud from either side, a row that has put Trump’s state visit to the UK in further jeopardy.
“The two leaders exchanged holiday greetings and warm wishes for Christmas and the New Year,” the White House said.
They also discussed Britain’s negotiations to withdraw from the EU, with the British side claiming that they “agreed on the importance of a swift post-Brexit bilateral trade deal.”
There was no mention of such an agreement in Washington’s account of the call, although Trump has made similar pledges in the past.
“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 Downing Street spokesman said.
“President Trump congratulated the Prime Minister on the decision by EU leaders to move to the second phase of the Brexit negotiations,” according to Washington.
Earlier Tuesday, May chaired the first detailed cabinet discussion on Britain’s future trade ties, after EU 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.
May and Trump also talked about Yemen, with May “highlighting our ongoing deep concerns at the humanitarian situation,” according to Downing Street.
“They agreed on the vital importance of reopening humanitarian and commercial access to prevent famine and alleviate the suffering of innocent Yemenis,” the spokesman said. — AFP