Queen in ‘difficult position’ over Trump’s state visit plans

AP, Reuters, AFP
Wed, 2017-02-01
LONDON: The British government’s decision to invite US President Donald Trump for a state visit, one of the highest honors it can bestow on a visiting dignitary, has involved Queen Elizabeth II in the passionate debate over Trump’s travel ban.
Trump’s provocative decision to deny refugees access to the US and to make it more difficult for people from seven Muslim-majority countries to visit has been widely denounced by opposition leaders and sparked protests in Britain, leading some to question the wisdom of the government’s decision.
It is the British government, currently led by Prime Minister Theresa May, that invites heads of state on the queen’s behalf, but it is the queen who acts as hostess. In most cases, that involves lavish pomp and ceremony, as well as a stay of several days at the queen’s official residence, Buckingham Palace.
The prospect of protests outside the palace when Trump comes calling has put the Queen Elizabeth in a “very difficult position,” said Peter Ricketts, formerly a top official in the Foreign Office.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has called for the invitation to be rescinded. His office said he will describe Trump’s travel ban as “cruel, prejudiced and counterproductive” at a City Hall diplomatic reception Tuesday.
Khan will make his comments at a meeting of foreign dignitaries, including US Chargé d’Affaires Lewis Lukens and ambassadors from most of the countries affected by the ban, the mayor’s office said.
“Targeting people for no reason other than their faith or their country of birth is cruel, prejudiced and counterproductive,” he will say, according to excerpts released to the media.
Khan, Britain’s most prominent politician and a member of the opposition Labour party, has called on May to cancel a planned state visit to London until he lifts the ban that he signed into force last Friday.

Debate on Trump state visit
British MPs will hold a debate on Feb. 20 on Trump’s state visit to Britain after 1.6 million people signed a petition calling for the trip to be downgraded.
“Parliament will debate this petition on 20 Feb. 2017,” Parliament said on its petition website that reads: “Donald Trump should be allowed to enter the UK in his capacity as head of the US Government, but he should not be invited to make an official State Visit because it would cause embarrassment to Her Majesty the Queen.”
A counter petition calling for Trump to proceed with a full visit also passed the 100,000 threshold requiring MPs to consider it for debate, and it will be discussed at the same time.
Thousands took to the streets of Britain on Monday in protest following Trump’s decision to ban citizens and refugees from seven mainly-Muslim countries.

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