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US ambassador to London defends embassy move after Donald Trump criticism

US ambassador to London defends embassy move after Donald Trump criticismAmerica’s ambassador to Britain has publicly defended the country’s new London embassy after Donald Trump blamed its cost for controversially cancelling a visit. Woody Johnson said America’s new embassy did not cost US taxpayers "a cent" and insisted the move was needed because of the terrorist threat after 9/11.  Mr Trump had earlier tweeted he would not visit London next month as planned because the original embassy was sold for “peanuts” and it was a “bad deal”.  However Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, blamed leading Labour figures for putting off Mr Trump with their criticism and placing the special relationship “at risk”.  The fallout came after Mr Trump once again postponed a “working visit” to Britain, which was originally pencilled in for January but had since slipped to February.  It further pushes back the time when Mr Trump is expected to visit the UK for the first time. He has already visited France, China, Japan, South Korea and the Middle East.  Woody Johnson, owner of the New York Jets and U.S. ambassador to the U.K Credit: Jason Alden/Bloomberg There are questions now about whether the US president will be invited to the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on May 19.  Mr Trump tweeted: Reason I canceled my trip to London is that I am 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!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 12, 2018 The US embassy has moved from Grosvenor Square in the heart of Mayfair to Nine Elms near Battersea, south London. The decision was actually taken by George W Bush, not Mr Obama.  Mr Trump had been expected to do an event marking the opening of the new embassy in a visit pencilled in for February 26 and 27.  In a piece published in the Evening Standard, Mr Johnson, who was made US ambassador last year, pushes back on the president’s criticism.  “I agree with President Trump that Grosvenor Square, in the heart of London, was a perfect location for our embassy,” he said.  But he added: “Security concerns after September 11 meant we had to move to a location that could better protect American citizens and our British neighbours.” Mr Johnson went on to say the embassy was “bigger” and “better” than its predecessor and came at no cost to Americans.  “It is the most secure, hi-tech and environmentally friendly embassy that the United States has ever built,” he wrote.  “Purchased and built from the sale of our London properties, the new embassy did not cost the US taxpayer a cent. Yet is one of the most advanced embassies we have ever built.” Sadiq Khan, the London mayor who has clashed with Mr Trump, praised the announcement: "It appears that President Trump got the message from the many Londoners who love and admire America and Americans but find his policies and actions the polar opposite of our city's values of inclusion, diversity and tolerance. Donald Trump, the US president Credit: AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File "His visit next month would without doubt have been met by mass peaceful protests. This just reinforces what a mistake it was for Theresa May to rush and extend an invitation of a state visit in the first place. "Let's hope that Donald Trump also revisits the pursuit of his divisive agenda." However Mr Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, hit back: “The US is the biggest single investor in the UK – yet Khan & [Jeremy] Corbyn seem determined to put this crucial relationship at risk. “We will not allow US-UK relations to be endangered by some puffed up pompous popinjay in City Hall.” Theresa May backed Mr Johnson, with a Downing Street source saying: “Boris expresses himself in his own inimitable way. We agree that any risk to the crucial US-UK relationship is not in our country’s best interests.” Nigel Farage said the prospect of mass protests may well have been a factor in Mr Trump’s decision to cancel his visit. He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Maybe, just maybe, Sadiq Khan, Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party planning mass protests, maybe those optics he didn’t like the look of.” Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary Credit: Victoria Jones/PA Wire Mr Trump is still expected to make a formal state visit to Britain at some time during his first term after accepting an offer delivered by Mrs May last year.  It later emerged that the old US embassy was sold for £315m, well below £500m that experts claimed it should have cost – appearing to back up Mr Trump’s criticism.  The US embassy later issued a statement saying the decision was made in 2007 – appearing to contradict Mr Trump's claim that it was made by Mr Obama.  The statement noted that the total project cost around $ 1 billion, but added that “no tax payer dollars” were spent on the move. 



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Ecuador gives Assange citizenship, seeks end to embassy stay

Ecuador gives Assange citizenship, seeks end to embassy stayBy Alexandra Valencia and Mark Hosenball QUITO/LONDON (Reuters) – Ecuador has given citizenship to Julian Assange as part of its efforts to allow the WikiLeaks founder to leave the country’s London embassy where he has been holed up for more than five years. Ecuador made the move hours after the British government refused a request from the South American nation for Assange to be given diplomatic status, which could give him immunity from arrest should he try to leave the embassy. After a year in which Ecuador’s president has spoken out against Assange, Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa said she hoped to find a solution to his dilemma.



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Julian Assange could be kicked out of Ecuador embassy as situation 'not sustainable'

Julian Assange could be kicked out of Ecuador embassy as situation 'not sustainable'The WikiLeaks founder was granted asylum in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over rape allegations, and has been holed up in Knightsbridge for five-and-a-half years. Swedish prosecutors have dropped their investigation into the allegations, but Mr Assange, who denied the allegations, fears he will be extradited to the United States if he leaves the building and that there is a sealed indictment ordering his arrest. WikiLeaks published thousands of classified military and diplomatic documents, in one of the largest information leaks in US history.



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Guatemala: Jerusalem embassy move a 'sovereign' decision

Guatemala: Jerusalem embassy move a 'sovereign' decisionGuatemala on Tuesday said its decision to follow the US in moving its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem was a “sovereign” matter that should not affect ties with other countries. “These are Guatemala’s foreign policy and sovereign decisions,” Foreign Minister Sandra Jovel told a news conference. Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales announced that he was ordering his country’s embassy to move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, despite a UN vote last week condemning US President Donald Trump’s decision to unilaterally view the holy city as Israel’s capital.



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British embassy worker found murdered in Lebanon: official

British embassy worker found murdered in Lebanon: officialA British woman employed at the UK embassy in Lebanon has been found murdered, a senior official said Sunday, adding that the crime did not appear to be political. According to her social media profiles, she was employed by the UK Department for International Development (DFID).



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British embassy worker found dead by roadside in Lebanon

British embassy worker found dead by roadside in LebanonBEIRUT (AP) — A British woman who worked at the U.K. embassy in Beirut was found strangled by the side of the road east of the Lebanese capital and authorities are investigating whether she was also sexually assaulted, officials said Sunday.



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Jerusalem row ignites Beirut violence as protesters clash with police outside US embassy

Jerusalem row ignites Beirut violence as protesters clash with police outside US embassyProtesters clashed with police outside the US embassy in Lebanon on Sunday amid an on-going fall-out from Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Demonstrations outside the embassy in Beirut grew violent with some protesters throwing stones and burning US and Israeli flags as Lebanese security forces fired tear gas and water cannon. Lebanon’s Shiite group Hezbollah has reacted strongly to the US decision on Israel, backing calls for a new Palestinian uprising against Israel.  Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah also called for a protest against the decision in the Hezbollah-controlled southern suburbs of Beirut on Monday. It followed comments from a high-ranking Israeli politician who said that Arabs who violently protested President Trump's decision are "not part of us" and called for a boycott of their businesses. Protesters are seen near the U.S. embassy in Awkar, in Beirut Credit: REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir The statements by defence minister Avigdor Lieberman, made Sunday morning on Israel's Army Radio, are part of an ongoing wave of reverberations following Mr Trump’s contentious Wednesday announcement. Mr Lieberman today called on Jewish Israelis to no longer visit the Arab villages of Wadi Ara and to cease buying any products sold there.  A group of demonstrators gather near the police barricades to enter US embassy in Beirut Credit: Furkan Guldemir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images Mr Lieberman's comments may serve to deepen the divide between Israel’s Jewish and Arab communities at a time when the few strands holding them and the two-state solution together have never been more fragile. Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu took a similarly offensive tack on Sunday, saying he was ready to stand up to any European critics on the matter of Jerusalem. Protesters are sprayed with water near the U.S. embassy in Awkar east of Beirut Credit: REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir Departing for a diplomatic mission to Paris, which vocally protested Mr Trump’s declaration, Mr Netanyahu said he "will present Israel's truth without fear and with head held high". In a separate development, a military spokesman said Sunday that Israel’s military has destroyed a Hamas tunnel burrowed from Gaza hundreds of yards into Israel. It is the second Gaza tunnel destroyed in six weeks by the Israeli military and comes amid seething tensions over Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.  Jerusalem – Israel The tunnel began in Khan Younis in the central Gaza strip and snaked underground across the border into Israel, said Lt Col. Jonathan Conricus, a spokesman for the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF).  He said that no Palestinians had been killed in the destruction of the tunnel, as far as the IDF was aware. At least 12 Palestinian militants from both Hamas and the Islamic Jihad group were killed when the last tunnel was destroyed in October.  Lt Col Conricus said the tunnel destruction was “not part of the same situation” as the unrest that followed that followed Mr Trump’s announcement and the two were “separate events”.  About | The two-state solution The discovery of the tunnel was made possible by “a new system” which was significantly enhancing Israel’s ability to detect tunnels from the Gaza strip, he said.  “I’m cautious of saying that we’re over the threat but this is a significant step forward improving security against terror tunnels emanating from Gaza,” he said. Israel has invested heavily in technologies to detect the underground tunnels but has kept its systems secret.  He said the IDF “does not seek to escalate the situation” with Hamas. Two Hamas fighters were killed by an Israeli airstrike on Saturday launched in response to rockets fired from Gaza. Two other Palestinian men were shot dead during clashes in Gaza on Friday.   “We are defending Israeli sovereignty and will continue to do so,” Lt Col Conricus said. He said the tunnel was very substantial and communications systems, air vents, electricity and reinforced concrete. 



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Trump May Move U.S. Embassy In Israel To Jerusalem. Here's Why That Matters.

Trump May Move U.S. Embassy In Israel To Jerusalem. Here's Why That Matters.President Donald Trump is expected to make a key policy announcement next week on the U.S. position on the status of Jerusalem, a decision that may have dramatic repercussions for the delicate peace process between Israelis and Palestinians.



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Trump likely to put off Israel embassy move — again

Trump likely to put off Israel embassy move — againSix months after he grudgingly postponed moving the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, President Trump seems on track to do so again.



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Violence in Greece breaks out after annual US Embassy march

Violence in Greece breaks out after annual US Embassy marchATHENS, Greece (AP) — Hundreds of youths attacked police in Greece's two largest cities on Friday, hurling rocks, flares and gas bombs, following a large, peaceful march to mark the anniversary of the 1973 crackdown on a student uprising against Greece's former military dictatorship.



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