Tillerson: Trump avoiding UK so May can focus on Brexit

Tillerson: Trump avoiding UK so May can focus on Brexit
© Keren Carrion

Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonReport: Trump UK ambassador fired deputy for mentioning Obama in speech Overnight Defense: Ex-Navy secretary slams Trump in new op-ed | Impeachment tests Pompeo's ties with Trump | Mexican president rules out US 'intervention' against cartels Pompeo-Trump relationship tested by impeachment inquiry MORE said Wednesday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats ask if they have reason to worry about UK result Trump scramble to rack up accomplishments gives conservatives heartburn Seven years after Sandy Hook, the politics of guns has changed MORE is foregoing a trip to the United Kingdom for the time being to avoid distracting Prime Minister Theresa May from negotiating Britain's exit from the European Union.

"As you know, President Trump was supportive of the U.K.’s exit from the EU; he still thinks that was the right decision for them," Tillerson told reporters.

"Britain needs to focus on those Brexit negotiations right now, which is really important to them, and I think the president realizes that’s where Prime Minister May really needs to focus her attention," he added.

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Tillerson's remarks were first reported by Bloomberg.

Trump announced in a tweet last week that he had canceled a trip to London to open the new U.S. Embassy there because of the building's high cost and "off location."

Nearly a year into his presidency, Trump has still not paid a visit to the U.K., which is regarded as Washington's closest ally.

In fact, a possible visit to the U.K. by Trump has been a subject of controversy since last year, when he was invited for a state visit. A petition circulated urging the U.K. government to rescind the invitation, and some members of Parliament have called to ban Trump from the country.

Tillerson said on Wednesday that he would visit London next week and hoped to visit the new embassy there.

--This report was updated at 10:42 a.m.