Rekindling UK 'special relationship' on to-do list

LONDON • US President-elect Donald Trump has told British Prime Minister Theresa May that he wishes to rekindle the kind of ties that leaders Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan shared in the 1980s.

In a phone call on Thursday, he told Mrs May that Britain is a "very, very special place for me and for our country", according to an e-mail from Mrs May's office. He added that it would be "the greatest possible honour" to host her in Washington "as soon as possible".

The term "special relationship" has been used to describe Anglo- American ties since the late British Premier Winston Churchill's time. Mrs Thatcher and Mr Reagan, however, shared a unique affinity.

Mr Trump has praised Britain's exit from the European Union and indicated that the United Kingdom would be at the front of the queue when it comes to trade deals.

Who reaches out first, and in what way, offers diplomatic clues on how different governments will relate to his administration.

Some reacted with enthusiasm: Russian President Vladimir Putin sent Mr Trump a telegram of congratulations within an hour of his victory being announced; Irish Premier Enda Kenny beat Mrs May to the phone.

Others appeared more circumspect: German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande sent letters.

In her call to Mr Trump, Mrs May stressed the importance of trade and investment with the US as Britain negotiates its exit from the EU.

British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson said of Mr Trump in Belgrade on Thursday: "He is after all a deal-maker, he wants to do a free trade deal and I think this is a great opportunity for us in the UK to build on that relationship with America."

Mrs May also alluded to the military and cultural links between the two nations.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 12, 2016, with the headline 'Rekindling UK 'special relationship' on to-do list'. Print Edition | Subscribe