May and Trump affirm UK-US relationship

US President Donald Trump and UK Prime Minister Theresa May have held a meeting and joint press conference, declaring they both represent forgotten working-class people. President Trump smoothed over some contentious parts of the relationship, backing away from a plan to reintroduce torture and playing down suggestions he'd relax sanctions on Russia. The Prime Minister stated that the President confirmed his nation's commitment to NATO.

Source: AM | Duration: 4min 44sec


ELIZABETH JACKSON: The US President, Donald Trump and the British Prime Minister, Theresa May have held a meeting and a joint press conference in Washington, declaring they both represent the forgotten working-class people.

President Trump also smoothed over a couple of contentious parts of the relationship, backing away from a plan to reintroduce torture and playing down suggestions he'd relax sanctions on Russia.

Here's our North America correspondent, Conor Duffy.

CONOR DUFFY: British Prime Minister Theresa May and US President Donald Trump lead their countries and political movements that were not predicted to be successful.

Ms May, responsible for leading Britain's exit from the European Union, said there were similarities with the movement that saw President Trump defy the odds and take the White House.

THERESA MAY: We want to put the interests of ordinary working people right up there, centre stage. Those people who: you know, they're working all the hours, they're doing their best for their families and sometimes they just feel the odds are stacked against them.

CONOR DUFFY: Unity was a theme of the day.

DONALD TRUMP: Today the United States renews our deep bond with Britain: military, financial, cultural and political. We have one of the great bonds. We pledge our lasting support to this most special relationship.

THERESA MAY: We're discussing a number of topics and there's much on which we agree. The President has mentioned foreign policy. We're discussing how we can work even more closely together.

CONOR DUFFY: President Trump had been critical of NATO in the run-up to the election, but today Ms May said he'd reaffirmed his support for the military alliance.

THERESA MAY: We've reaffirmed our unshakeable commitment to this alliance. Mr President, I think you said - confirmed that you're 100 per cent behind NATO.

But we're also discussing the importance of NATO continuing, to ensure it is as equipped to fight terrorism and cyber warfare as it is to fight more conventional forms of war.

CONOR DUFFY: They did acknowledge disagreements but declined to spell them out.

President Trump softened his rhetoric on a couple of those points of contention.

On the eve of Ms May's visit, the President had appeared to say he would bring back torture, triggering a storm of controversy back home and calls for her to raise objections.

President Trump says, while he personally supports it, he will defer to his new Secretary of Defence, General James Mattis, who opposes it.

DONALD TRUMP: He has stated publicly that he does not necessarily believe in torture or waterboarding or however you want to define it. Enhanced interrogation, I guess, would be a word that a lot of - words that a lot of people would like to use.

I don't necessarily agree, but I would tell you that he will override, because I'm giving him that power. He's an expert. He's highly respected. He's the general's general.

CONOR DUFFY: Another prickly subject is how the US will deal with Russia.

President Trump is having a phone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin and played down reports he would immediately lift sanctions on Russia.

DONALD TRUMP: As far as, again Putin and Russia: I don't say good, bad, or indifferent. I don't know the gentleman.

I hope we have a fantastic relationship: that's possible. And it's also possible that we won't. We will see what happens.

I will be representing the American people very, very strongly, very forcefully. How the relationship works out: I won't be able to tell you that later. I've had many times where I thought I'd get along with people and I don't like them at all.

CONOR DUFFY: President Trump also spoke with Mexico's President, Enrique Pena Nieto, with whom he cancelled a meeting yesterday.

DONALD TRUMP: I have been very strong on Mexico. I have great respect for Mexico. I love the Mexican people.

But as you know, Mexico, with the United States, has out-negotiated us and beat us to a pulp through our past leaders. They've made us look foolish. We have a trade deficit of $US60 billion with Mexico.

On top of that, the border is soft and weak, drugs are pouring in, and we are going to be working on a fair relationship and a new relationship.

But the United States cannot continue to lose vast amounts of business, vast amounts of companies and millions and millions of people losing their jobs.

That won't happen with me. We're no longer going to be the country that doesn't know what it's doing. So we are going to renegotiate our trade deals and we're going to renegotiate other aspects of our relationship with Mexico. And in the end, I think it'll be good for both countries.

CONOR DUFFY: President Trump said the two leaders had a constructive chat over an hour.

This is Conor Duffy in Washington for Saturday AM.

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