Trump, UK’s Boris Johnson speak by phone

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President Trump on Tuesday had a phone conversation with Boris Johnson during which the British politician turned down an in-person meeting, according to U.K. television channel ITV.

The contender to replace British Prime Minister Theresa May told Trump in the 20-minute call that he had a previous commitment and could not see the president during his three-day state visit.

ITV political editor Robert Peston, citing an unidentified source, said the call was “friendly and productive,” but that Johnson told Trump that he had to attend an event related to the prime minister’s race. 

{mosads}Trump acknowledged the call during a joint news conference with May later Tuesday but did not comment on what he and Johnson discussed.

“So, I know Boris. I like him, I’ve liked him for a long time. I think he’d do a very good job,” Trump said.

Trump caused a diplomatic stir before leaving for the U.K. when he said Johnson would make an “excellent” prime minister. It is unusual for a U.S. president to weigh in on a foreign election. The former U.K. foreign secretary is a vocal proponent of Brexit and has long been a May rival.

“I like him. I have always liked him. I don’t know that he is going to be chosen, but I think he is a very good guy, a very talented person,” Trump told The Sun in an interview published over the weekend.

News of the call with Johnson broke minutes before Trump was set to appear with May, who is expected to leave office on Friday.

— This report was updated at 10:59 a.m.

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