- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 23, 2019

President Trump and first lady Melania Trump will jet to Britain in June for a long-planned state visit and then head to France for ceremonies honoring the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the White House said Tuesday.

The visits are designed to shore up the “steadfast and special relationship” between the U.S. and the United Kingdom and to bolster “shared economic and security interests” with France, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.

In the first leg of the trip, from June 3 to 5, Mr. Trump will head to Downing Street in London for meetings with Prime Minister Theresa May, who is steeped in thorny talks over leaving the European Union.

The president and Mrs. Trump will also attend a ceremony on the 5th in Portsmouth, a southern coastal city that served as a critical launching site for the D-Day landing at Normandy, France.

Mrs. Sanders said the trip is at the invitation of Queen Elizabeth II.

Mr. Trump visited Britain in mid-2018, when he had tea with the queen and held talks with Mrs. May, although his working visit was marked by protests and a “baby Trump” blimp that hovered over Parliament Square.

The president also visited his Turnberry golf course in Scotland during that trip.

The return trip is an official state visit, which typically involves royal pomp and a banquet. It is the third state visit Queen Elizabeth has prepared for a U.S. president, after George W. Bush visited in November 2003 and Barack Obama in May 2011.

Mrs. May first promised Mr. Trump a state visit in 2017, after he assumed office. It’s finally coming to fruition, as the prime minister prepares for a post-Brexit world that will require bilateral partnerships.

“The state visit is an opportunity to strengthen our already close relationship in areas such as trade, investment, security and defense, and to discuss how we can build on these ties in the years ahead,” Mrs. May said Tuesday.

The prime minister’s office said the Portsmouth event will be “one of the greatest British military spectacles in recent history,” featuring live performances, military displays and tributes to Allied troops.

Mr. Trump and the first lady will head to France on June 6, observing the D-Day anniversary at the Normandy American Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer.

Also, Mr. Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron will participate in a bilateral meeting “to reinforce continued close cooperation on our shared economic and security interests,” Mrs. Sanders said.

Mr. Macron tried early in his presidency to develop a bond with Mr. Trump. He hosted him at a Bastille Day military parade, seemingly prompting the U.S. president to want to stage his own military show in Washington. Their relationship has been rocky at times since then, due in part to Mr. Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate deal and his recent push to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria.

Last week, Mr. Trump called Mr. Macron and offered U.S. assistance in helping France rebuild the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, which suffered major damage in a fire April 15.

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