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Theresa May will meet Trump today to strengthen relationship that 'defined the modern world'

The two will hold a joint press conference later today.

Theresa May arrives at Andrew's Air Force Base in Washington DC.
Theresa May arrives at Andrew's Air Force Base in Washington DC.
Image: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

UK PRIME MINISTER Theresa May is set to meet Donald Trump later today, the US president’s first official meeting with a foreign leader that is set to be dominated by talk of trade and security.

After igniting a row this week with Mexico over his plans to build a border wall, Trump will likely have an easier ride with May as she seeks to reaffirm Britain’s “special relationship” with the United States with an eye on her country’s future outside the European Union.

May arrived in the United States yesterday to a rapturous welcome from Republican lawmakers gathering in Philadelphia. She gave a speech urging them to “beware” of Russia, and warning US allies to “step up” and play a greater role in global security.

She met with Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan and discussed issues that included early efforts to forge a trade deal for when Britain leaves the European Union.

May is hoping the prospect of a US deal – while complicated – will help dispel fears among a divided public that Britain may be economically worse off by leaving Europe’s single market.

But her decision to meet Trump just one week after his inauguration has caused controversy at home, where he has been condemned by politicians of all guises for his comments about women, Muslims and the use of torture.

May has promised to be “frank” in her dealings with the unpredictable billionaire, and laughed off questions about their personal compatibility.

“Haven’t you ever noticed that sometimes opposites attract?” she told reporters on her plane.

The pair will meet at the White House and hold a joint press conference before taking part in a working lunch.

It will be the first such event for the president since taking office.

The Kremlin also said that Trump may speak by telephone to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin for the first time on Saturday.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov responded “yes” when asked by the RIA Novosti news agency whether such a talk between the two leaders was possible, as reported by CNN.

Trump Source: AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

Defined the modern world’

May will begin the day with a visit to Arlington National Cemetery, the final resting place of a number of British soldiers who died fighting alongside US forces in various wars.

The prime minister’s speech to Republican lawmakers yesterday hailed strong security ties between the two countries, and said their relationship had “defined the modern world”.

Acknowledging rising tensions between the US and China, she said fears of the “eclipse of the West” would not be fulfilled if Britain and the United States continued to stand together.

May visits US - Day One May addresses the Republican congressmen's retreat in Philadelphia. Source: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

May said NATO member states should contribute their fair share – a complaint made by the former and current US administrations – but defended the alliance from Trump’s claims it was “obsolete.”

May also defended the Iranian nuclear deal against the president’s criticism, saying it was “vitally important” for regional security – but must now be properly enforced.

The prime minister had tough words on Trump’s assertion that torture “absolutely” works, telling reporters that she condemned the use of illegal interrogation.

However, she won loud applause from Republicans when she praised Trump’s victory, which he has compared to the anti-establishment feeling that drove the Brexit vote last June.

Another threat is to finance the wall by tapping into remittances that Mexican migrants send home, which last year amounted to $25 billion.

Trump has also ordered officials to scour US government departments and agencies in search of “direct and indirect” aid or assistance to the Mexican government and report back within 30 days.

The United States is expected to provide about $134 million worth of assistance to Mexico this year, with much of the spending wrapped up in the “Merida Initiative” to combat drug cartels.

© AFP 2017

Read: Enda believes undocumented Irish with ‘minor indiscretions’ will not be turfed out by Trump

Read: Donald Trump is getting serious about his border wall. Could it actually happen?

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