Donald Trump is set to visit the UK later this year, Downing Street has said, after the US president and Theresa May met in Davos and directed officials to work out details of the trip.
News of Trump’s planned visit, which has been delayed several times, was immediately met with calls on social media for demonstrations during the trip.
The decision was made as the pair met at the World Economic Forum. A No 10 description of the talks at the Swiss resort said: “The PM and president concluded by asking officials to work together on finalising the details of a visit by the president to the UK later this year.”
The statement did not say whether this would be a standard trip, or the full state visit offered to Trump when May visited him in Washington shortly after his inauguration last year. Downing Street declined to say what sort of visit was being planned.
The state visit, which would involve extensive ceremony and mean that Trump would stay at Buckingham Palace, had been put off, reportedly due to concerns from the president and his team that it would be met by demonstrations.
After May criticised Trump in November for retweeting anti-Muslim videos posted by the far-right group Britain First, the relationship had been painted as rocky.
But, earlier on Thursday, Trump sought to portray the pair as close allies, saying they had “a really great relationship”, adding: “I have tremendous respect for the prime minister and the job she’s doing. And I think the feeling is mutual from the standpoint of liking each other a lot.”
In an apparent reference to interpretations of May’s criticism after he retweeted the Britain First propaganda, he said: “That was a little bit of false rumour out there … we love your country because it’s truly great.”
Trump had been due to come to London this month to open the new US embassy but this was also cancelled.
The decision was believed to have been made because of the prospect of protests, but Trump claimed he had decided to not come because of his displeasure at Barack Obama having sold the old embassy in Grosvenor Square for “peanuts”. In fact, the planned move to Wandsworth began when George W Bush was still president.
Downing Street has been pushing for a visit by Trump despite worries at the reception he could receive. The government hopes closer ties with the White House will improve the prospects of a more rapid UK-US trade deal after Brexit.
However, Trump’s erratic behaviour, nationalist approach and support from the racist far-right have resulted in promises by numerous groups to protest if he visited the UK, with the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, among those calling for demonstrations.
Before the talks in Davos, May and Trump both played down any tensions. The bilateral relationship was “strong as it ever has been”, May told the BBC. As the pair faced the cameras, Trump said: “We’re on the same wavelength in I think in every respect.”
After the meeting, he tweeted that the talks had been “great”.
Downing Street said the pair discussed the situation with Bombardier, the aviation firm that has been threatened with the imposition of tariffs by the US.
It added: “The prime minister and the president discussed Iran and the need to work together to combat the destabilising activity which it is conducting in the region, including ballistic missile development, and continuing efforts to ensure Iran does not develop nuclear weapons.
“They also agreed on the importance of continuing to stand side-by-side in the fight against Daesh [Islamic State] in Syria and elsewhere.
“The prime minister updated the president on the good progress which had been made in the Brexit negotiations so far. The two leaders reiterated their desire for a strong trading relationship post-Brexit, which would be in the interests of both countries.”