Trump and May discuss post-Brexit trade deal, Jerusalem

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May (L) and US President Donald Trump (R) speak during a working dinner meeting at the NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium, 25 May 2017. [Thierry Charlier/ EPA]

British Prime Minister Theresa May and US President Donald Trump “agreed on the importance of a swift post-Brexit bilateral trade deal” during talks on Tuesday (19 December).

The leaders discussed a future trade deal between the two countries during a phone call which focused on several other issues including Jerusalem, a spokesman said.

It was their first conversation since a rare public row erupted last month after May criticised Trump’s retweeting of a fringe British far-right leader’s anti-Muslim messages, which provoked an angry response from the president.

However, the British PM failed to confront Trump about the issue.

“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 spokesman said.

EU to move Brexit talks forward after praise for May

EU leaders are expected to unlock the next stage of Brexit negotiations at a summit on Friday (15 December) after applauding British Prime Minister Theresa May’s divorce proposals.

“They agreed on the importance of a swift post-Brexit bilateral trade deal.”

Earlier Tuesday, May chaired the first detailed cabinet discussion on Britain’s future trade ties, after European Union 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.

The transatlantic phone call also touched on Trump’s controversial recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital earlier this month, which May previously called “unhelpful” and said the British government disagreed with.

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The European Union expressed serious concern on Wednesday after U.S. President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, saying it could have repercussions for peace prospects.

“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,” the Downing Street spokesman added.

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.