US President Donald Trump has revealed that he rejected an offer of a meeting with Jeremy Corbyn during his visit to the UK, labelling the Labour leader a "negative force".
Corbyn had turned down an invitation to the state banquet hosted by the Queen at Buckingham Palace for the president on Monday night. And on Tuesday he addressed an anti-Trump protest rally in central London, condemning Trump's attacks on London mayor Sadiq Khan.
Shortly afterwards, Trump was asked at a Westminster press conference with prime minister Theresa May about Corbyn's decision to address the protesters and to snub the banquet.
"I don't know Jeremy Corbyn," the president replied. "He wanted to meet today. I said no. He is somewhat of a negative force. I have decided not to meet."
A Labour spokesperson confirmed that Corbyn did offer Trump a meeting, saying, “Jeremy Corbyn proposed a meeting with Donald Trump during the president's visit. Jeremy is ready to engage with the president on a range of issues, including the climate emergency, threats to peace, and the refugee crisis."
During his speech at the rally, Corbyn said he was "absolutely not refusing to meet anybody".
Corbyn had previously said it was wrong to "roll out the red carpet" for a president who "uses racist and misogynistic rhetoric", but did say he would "welcome a meeting with President Trump to discuss all matters of interest".
A spokesperson for May told reporters after the press conference that she and Trump had discussed a wide range of topics, including climate change, foreign policy, and a future trade agreement.
The spokesperson said: “They began by talking about the economic partnership and the shared desire to do what you heard the president and the prime minister describe as a very ambitious trade agreement.
“They also talked about deepening the economic partnership between the two countries. I think it’s about close ties across the various different sectors of the economy. There’s a lot of focus on free trade agreements and the deal that you can do in relation to goods, but just about deepening economic ties.”
The spokesperson said they also discussed “a whole range of foreign policy areas”, including China, Syria, Daesh, al-Qaeda, Yemen, and Iran.
“They talked about clean energy, they talked about climate change,” the spokesperson added.
The two leaders also talked about the Chinese Huawei communications network, whose potential input into Britain’s 5G network has been a sticking point between Trump and May.
The spokesperson said: “The PM set out that we have an ongoing review, a very serious piece of work; the PM stressed ... her absolute commitment to national security.”
The spokesperson said “they had a good discussion, and I think they both agreed both sides are treating this issue with the greatest seriousness.”
Alex Wickham is a senior reporter with BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Alex Wickham at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hannah Al-Othman is a political correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Hannah Al-Othman at email@example.com.
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