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US Foreign Secretary notes Trump's 'huge appetite' for UK trade deal

Christian Fernsby |
US President Donald Trump has indicated a "huge appetite" for signing a free trade deal with the UK once it has left the EU, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said.

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Raab, making his first visit to the US since assuming office last month, said he had a "preliminary chat" with the president on Tuesday covering a range of issues from security to trade.

He said Trump had been "effusive in his warmth" towards the UK and had expressed his "high regard" for Boris Johnson as prime minister.

The decision to invite Raab into the Oval Office for an unscheduled meeting will be seen as a sign the president is keen to repair relations with the UK after they soured in the dying days of Theresa May's premiership.

Raab, who was in the White House to meet Vice President Mike Pence, said: "He called me into the Oval Office. He was effusive in his warmth for the UK.

"It's amazing to hear an American president talk about our country in such warm terms. He expressed his high regard for Boris Johnson as a prime minister.

"We talked about all the things that we want to do together in the post-Brexit vision for the UK, whether it's getting a free trade deal done and there's obviously going to be a lot of work to make that happen. There's a huge appetite on both sides to achieve that.

"And then all the range of security issues that we share in common and want to make sure we strengthen the relationship and build our capacity to tackle those issues together."

Trump's relationship with May ended acrimoniously following the leak of diplomatic cables from the UK ambassador to the US, Kim Darroch, which were highly critical of his administration.

Kim felt compelled to stand down after Trump made clear the White House would no longer deal with him and Johnson – at that stage the Tory leadership favourite – failed to offer him his unequivocal support.

The president also bitterly criticised May's handling of the Brexit negotiations, accusing her of ignoring his advice.

Raab's visit to the White House came at the start of the second leg of a three-day visit to North America intended to "fire up" trade with Britain's non-EU partners.

After meeting Canadian foreign minister Chrystia Freeland in Toronto on Tuesday, he is due to travel to Mexico for further talks on Thursday.

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