White House belatedly notes call with British prime minister, but not her ‘deep concern’ over trade proposals

  • U.S. president Donald Trump and British prime minister Theresa May at the first working session of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, on July 7, 2017. (John MacDougall/Pool/DPA/Abaca Press/TNS) John MacDougall

Tribune Washington Bureau
Monday, March 05, 2018

WASHINGTON — The White House has belatedly acknowledged that President Donald Trump had a consequential phone conversation with the British prime minister — a day after the British government broke the news.

The White House statement neglected to address the most important takeaway from the conversation, namely that Prime Minister Theresa May has “deep concern” over Trump’s new trade proposals.

The statement released Monday morning notes only the leaders’ agreement on Russia’s role in the continued conflict in Syria and a handful of matters.

On trade, the White House statement says only that they discussed “President Trump’s efforts to ensure fair and reciprocal trade” — a blithe reference to his declaration last week that he will impose steep tariffs on steel and aluminum.

May’s government said she raised her concerns about the tariffs on the phone with Trump and warned that protectionist moves could lead to economic upheaval.

The U.S. government traditionally keeps its own citizens updated on the state of relations with key allies. Lately, though, Americans are learning the latest not from their own leader but from others.