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LONDON -- Britain plans to welcome President Donald Trump with the formality of a state visit in June, Buckingham Palace announced Tuesday, 2½ years after first extending the invitation.

Prime Minister Theresa May first conveyed the invitation for a state visit to Trump when he took office in 2017. Trump accepted, but it was delayed amid concerns about Trump's reception in the U.K. and Britain's extended crisis over leaving the European Union, known as Brexit. May's enthusiasm for a visit is partly because of her country's need for strong partnerships after Britain leaves the bloc.

Trump traveled to Britain last year on a working visit. The trip included meeting Queen Elizabeth II but not the honor of a full state visit, which usually includes ceremonies, government meetings, a ballroom banquet and other public engagements. Demonstrators trailed the U.S. president everywhere, with tens of thousands of people flooding the streets of central London to protest his presence.

The president and first lady accepted the invitation for a state visit, the White House said in an emailed statement Tuesday. During his visit, Trump will meet the queen and hold talks with the British prime minister, the statement added.

"This state visit will reaffirm the steadfast and special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom," the White House said.

May said in a statement Tuesday that the state visit was "an opportunity to strengthen our already close relationship in areas such as trade, investment, security and defense, and to discuss how we can build on these ties in the years ahead."

First mentioned very early in the Trump presidency, the idea of a state visit was designed to help solidify trans-Atlantic ties at a time when Britain's departure from the EU made the United States a potentially vital trade ally.

The announcement of the state visit comes at a time when May faces a growing rebellion from her own lawmakers over her failure to take Britain out of the EU on schedule on March 29.

May hopes that, by the time of Trump's visit, Parliament will have approved her plan for Brexit, and Britain will be on course to leave the bloc, perhaps at the end of June. She has said that sometime after that she would step aside for a new leader.

But with no sign that her Brexit plan will be approved soon by Parliament, the state visit could come at a time of significant political tension over May's leadership. Because of the latest delay, Britain is likely to hold elections to the European Parliament on May 23.

Until Britain leaves the EU, it will not be able to start formal negotiations on any new trade agreement with the United States.

On June 5, the president will take part in events in Portsmouth, on the south coast of England, for the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy, the White House said, adding that the next day, Donald and Melania Trump would travel to France at the invitation of President Emmanuel Macron.

A formal invitation for a state visit, issued by the monarch on the advice of the government, is among the heaviest tools in Britain's diplomatic arsenal. Before Trump, Barack Obama and George W. Bush were the only two U.S. presidents who had been invited to Britain for a full state visit.

"This is a president who has systematically assaulted all the shared values that unite our two countries, and unless Theresa May is finally going to stand up to him and object to that behavior, she has no business wasting taxpayers' money on all the pomp, ceremony and policing costs that will come with this visit," said Emily Thornberry, foreign affairs spokeswoman for Britain's main opposition Labor Party.

John Bercow, speaker of the House of Commons, has said that he will not allow Trump to address Parliament, as other leaders have done, including Obama, President Xi Jinping of China and former President Nelson Mandela of South Africa.

A former head of the British navy, Lord West, said that, considering the occasion, Trump should be allowed to address Parliament.

"Many Americans gave their lives on D-Day and beyond, and it would be disgraceful not to allow President Trump to speak," he told The Daily Telegraph on Friday.

Information for this article was contributed by Palko Karasz and Stephen Castle of The New York Times; and by Darlene Superville, Danica Kirka and Jill Lawless of The Associated Press.

A Section on 04/24/2019

Print Headline: Trump, U.K. set state-visit plans

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