DONALD Trump has confirmed he will not come to the United Kingdom to open the new USA embassy next month, blaming the Obama administration's decision to move it to an "off location" in a "bad deal".
Trump said the Obama administration sold "the best located and finest embassy in London for 'peanuts.'" The move follows long-standing fears that the United States president's trip could trigger protests in the UK.
Mr Trump also criticised the location of the new building in Vauxhall, south London, as an "off location", adding: "Wanted me to cut ribbon-NO!"
The current ambassador, Robert "Woody" Johnson, said the change was necessary even though the USA had been linked to Grosvenor Square for more than 200 years.
Trump's critics believed he had pulled out of the trip over fears of mass protests over his impending state visit to the country, which is set to go ahead though no date has been confirmed by Downing Street.
The embassy move from central London to a regenerated area on the south bank of the River Thames is in fact the result of a decade-long project initiated by the administration of former Republican president George W. Bush. The idea had gradually evolved into a working visit in which Trump would open the London embassy. Trump sparked outrage among members of Parliament and drew a sharp rebuke from Prime Minister Theresa May after he retweeted posts from a fringe anti-Muslim group in November. In December, Johnson said he was looking forward to welcoming the president. She suggested a formal visit could still, but offered no details. SOT: JEREMY SHAPIRO, RESEARCH DIRECTOR AT THE EUROPEAN COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS (ENGLISH): Jeremy Shapiro of the European Council on Foreign Relations cautioned against trying to make sense of Trump's decision to postpone his trip.
The exchange prompted further calls to dump the visit.
Some British lawmakers questioned whether Trump would be welcome in London because of previous tweets and criticism of Muslims and his sniping at London Mayor Sadiq Khan in the aftermath of a terror attack in that city a year ago.
"A multi-disciplinary team of professionals considered over 170 criteria, to include physical security requirements, and determined that the Nine Elms site was the best overall location for the USA government", the statement added.
Labor party lawmaker David Lammy said that the bombastic billionaire was unnerved by the possibility of being "met by millions of us out on the streets protesting".
He warned that criticism of the White House risked harming US-UK relations.
The mayor of London - who has been criticized by Trump in tweets - said Trump appeared to have "got the message from the many Londoners who love and admire America and Americans but find his policies and actions the polar opposite of our city's values of inclusion, diversity and tolerance".