Staff Writer Jax Gay
President Trump said late Thursday that he canceled a trip to London to open the new U.S. embassy there, citing an Obama-era real estate sale.
Trump wrote on Twitter that he canceled his trip because he is "not a big fan of the Obama Administration having sold perhaps the best located and finest embassy in London for 'peanuts,' only to build a new one in an off location for 1.2 billion dollars."
"Bad deal. Wanted me to cut ribbon-NO!" Trump wrote.
Trump weighed in after multiple media outlets in the United Kingdom reported that he was leaning against a trip to open the new U.S. facility in Nine Elms, south-west London.
The Guardian reported Thursday citing government sources that Washington had signaled Secretary of State Rex Tillerson would open the new embassy next month instead of Trump.
The story said that Trump "backed off" the idea of visiting the U.K. amid fears of protests. The newspaper reported that no date for a state visit for Trump had been set.
The move to relocate the U.S. embassy to Nine Elms has been in the works for years, stretching back to 2008 when the State Department under President George W. Bush announced that it signed an agreement with a real estate developer to purchase the property.
“This has been a long and careful process,” then-U.S. Ambassador to the U.K. Robert Tuttle said at the time. "We looked at all our options, including renovation of our current building on Grosvenor Square. In the end, we realized that the goal of a modern, secure and environmentally sustainable Embassy could best be met by constructing a new facility."
The U.S. sold its old embassy building in 2009 and developers broke ground on the new site in 2013.
Relations between the U.S. and Britain have been strained in recent months, with British Prime Minister Theresa May criticizing controversial tweets that Trump shared in late November.
May's office said at the time that it was "wrong" for Trump to share videos purporting to show violent acts by Muslims that were first tweeted by the leader of the ultranationalist political party Britain First.