meeting of usuk leaders important on symbolic level say experts
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Last Updated : GMT 05:21:58
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Meeting of US-UK leaders "important on symbolic level," say experts

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Arab Today, arab today Meeting of US-UK leaders "important on symbolic level," say experts

U.S. President Donald Trump
London - ArabToday

The meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May in Washington on Friday was significant mainly on a symbolic level, experts agreed.

The two leaders met in the U.S. capital for the first time on Friday and held a joint press conference afterwards. It was the first meeting between Trump, who was inaugurated on Jan. 20 for a four-year term, and a foreign leader.

SYMBOLISM

Dr. Ramon Pacheco Pardo, an international relations and international political economy expert at King's College London, said that little of substance was revealed, but that the meeting had some importance.

"The symbolism is very important. It shows that the UK has many partners around the world including the United States," Pardo told Xinhua on Saturday. "Substantially it does not change much -- that will come later."

Quentin Peel, an associate fellow at the London global affairs think-tank Chatham House, agreed that the meeting between the two leaders, who represent the two largest military powers in NATO, was important mostly for its symbolism.

"There is a lot of symbolism about this; although May probably wanted to do this more than Donald Trump. But it was not ever going to an entirely straightforward exercise," Peel told Xinhua in an interview.

May's trip to Washington is seen not just in terms of the so-called "special relationship" between the United States and Britain, but also against the background of the Brexit vote in June last year which has set Britain on the path of leaving the European Union (EU).

"It is all the more important for her because of Brexit, because she needs to show that she has alternatives to the European Union," said Peel.

"May was keen to underline the special relationship, and to get a green light on being right at the front of the queue for the bilateral trade deal," he added.

UNCERTAINTY

Britain and the United States have connected economies. Trade and investment between the two nations is strong, and a trade deal between Britain and the United States would be negotiable after Britain leaves the EU.

However, Peel sounded a warning. "Trade deals are much more difficult to negotiate than it would appear, and the devil is in the detail and these things amount to a wrestling match so that both sides get all the concessions they want for their industry."

"There was confirmation that a FTA will be discussed," said Pardo. "This can only be negotiated from the moment the UK leaves the EU, from 2019."

"And by then, the United States will be in the next presidential campaign. And in a presidential campaign it is very difficult for presidents to discuss FTAs," Peel said.

"Who knows by 2018 if Republicans control Congress, Republicans might have fallen out with Trump. It is difficult to predict," said Peel.

LESS AGREEMENT ON NATO

In military and security areas, it appeared that both nations would continue their previous close relationship.

"There was confirmation that the United States and UK are going to continue to cooperate on issues such as intelligence. I don't think this was much in doubt, because it is in the interests of both of them," said Pardo.

However, Pardo envisioned that there might be less agreement on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

"I think the problem might be NATO because May said that Trump had confirmed to her that he was 100 percent behind NATO, but he was standing there and did not say anything and did not mention NATO," said Pardo.

"Even though he did not contradict May, he did not seem very enthusiastic about it," he said.

May had wanted to affirm her continued support for NATO, said Peel. Her support was not matched by Trump's words, nor was it contradicted by him as she reiterated her support in the post-meeting press conference, said Peel.

Pardo agreed. "The UK is more open than the United States to cooperation through NATO, or how to deal with Muslim minorities. This shows there is a gap between the two governments, with the UK being more liberal than the United States," he said.

source: Xinhua

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