London, Jan 12 (Just News): US president Donald Trump has confirmed he will not travel to the UK to open the new American embassy next month, blaming the decision to relocate the building to an "off location".
Hitting out at former US leader Barack Obama, Mr Trump wrote on Twitter early on Friday that he thought the embassy's move from Grosvenor Square in the prestigious Mayfair district of central London to Nine Elms, south of the Thames, in a 1.2 billion dollar (£886 million) project was a "bad deal".
He wrote: "Reason I cancelled my trip to London is that I am not a big fan of the Obama Administration having sold perhaps the best located and finest embassy in London for 'peanuts', only to build a new one in an off location for 1.2 billion dollars. Bad deal. Wanted me to cut ribbon-NO!"
Prime Minister Theresa May was the first world leader to visit Mr Trump in the White House and the US president accepted at the time an invitation for a state visit.
But that idea was fairly swiftly pushed into the long grass, given the scale of expected protests and opposition within the UK. A petition against a state visit gained more than a million signatures last year.
Mr Trump was then reported to be considering a "working visit", with some publications reporting that a date had been set for the end of February. The visit was due to coincide with the opening of the new US embassy.
Writing on Twitter at 4.57am on Friday, Mr Trump said he thought the embassy's move from Grosvenor Square was a "bad deal".
Despite Mr Trump publicly blaming his predecessor Obama, the US announced its plans to move to the new embassy site in October 2008 - when George W Bush was in the White House. The new building will open on January 16.
On the embassy web page about the project, it said: "The project has been funded entirely by the proceeds of the sale of other US Government properties in London, not through appropriated funds."
Mr Trump had also been scheduled to hold talks with Mrs May in No 10, with February 26 and 27 marked in the diary. Downing Street had hoped to confirm the dates this week.
Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state, will instead represent the US at the embassy opening.
In December, US Ambassador Woody Johnson said he was looking forward to welcoming the president when he visited, adding: "I think he will be very impressed with this building and the people who occupy it."
He said the new embassy was a "signal to the world that this special relationship that we have is stronger and is going to grow and get better".
One of the interior gardens that is filled with cacti to evoke the south west American desert landscapes
An interior garden filled with cacti to evoke the south-west American desert landscapes goes on show before the new embassy opens later in January Credit: Stefan Rousseau /PA
Mr Trump's decision not to head across the Atlantic comes despite Mrs May saying that a future visit was still on the cards last week.
A Downing Street spokesman said: "Our position is that an offer for a state visit has been extended and accepted."
Sources claimed that the lack of "bells and whistles" and royal involvement in next month's planned visit might have discouraged Mr Trump.
Mrs May controversially extended the offer of a state visit - officially on behalf of the Queen - when she became the first world leader to meet Mr Trump in the White House following his inauguration last year.
Since then, however, the president has indicated he does not want to take up the invitation if he is going to face mass demonstrations and it had been expected he could make a low-key working visit rather than a trip which involved all the trappings of a state occasion.