LONDON MAYOR CALLS FOR CANCELLING TRUMP VISIT OVER ANTI-MUSLIM EXTREMISM: The mayor of London on Thursday added his voice to mounting calls for President Donald Trump's state visit to the U.K. to be canceled over his retweets of a British far-right group. Sadiq Khan said Trump has promoted "a vile, extremist group" and an official visit by him to Britain "would not be welcomed." Trump's retweeting of anti-Muslim videos from far-right fringe group Britain First has been widely condemned in Britain. Prime Minister Theresa May's official spokesman said the president was wrong to have done it. In response, Trump urged May to focus on "the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom," rather than on him.
BRITAIN'S PM THERESA MAY MEETS WITH JORDAN'S KING ABDULLAH IN WAKE OF TRUMP VIDEO TWEETS: Britain's prime minister pledged Thursday to step up economic support for Jordan, a key pro-Western Arab ally, amid concerns that the kingdom's mounting economic woes could undermine its stability. Theresa May held talks with Jordan's King Abdullah II at the end of a three-day Mideast tour meant to bolster ties with the region before Britain leaves the European Union. The meeting came at a time when May is embroiled in a social media row with President Donald Trump over his perceived stoking of anti-Islam sentiments. Trump sparked outrage Wednesday when he retweeted inflammatory videos from a fringe British group purporting to show violence by Muslims. Neither May nor Abdullah referred to the spat during brief comments at the start of their meeting in the Jordanian capital of Amman. The king is a leading champion of religious tolerance and is viewed by the West as a crucial partner in the battle against Islamic militants.
CHINESE LEADER PRAISES OBAMA DURING VISIT, SNARKY TRUMP TWEETS SURE TO FOLLOW: Chinese President Xi Jinping praised Barack Obama's efforts to develop relations between the nations when he was president of the United States, Chinese state media reported Thursday. Obama met with Xi on Wednesday at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing and discussed bilateral ties, the official Xinhua News Agency said. Xi "made positive comments" about Obama's efforts to develop bilateral relations when he was president, Xinhua said. The tour continues a longstanding tradition of former U.S. presidents traveling overseas after leaving office, especially as they work to attract donations and other support for their foundations, libraries and presidential centers. But Obama's trip may garner particular attention, given that many foreign countries are still uncertain about Trump's foreign policy and may look to his predecessor to help explain America's current direction.
US AND CHINESE MILITARY LEADERS MEET FOR DISCUSSION THAT MAY INCLUDE NORTH KOREA: U.S. and Chinese generals engaged in an unusual set of security talks on Wednesday, just hours after North Korea’s most powerful missile test yet, focused on how the mighty American and Chinese militaries might communicate in a crisis. As President Donald Trump greeted the North’s launching of another intercontinental ballistic missile with familiar demands for China to get tougher with its ally, the low-profile and unpublicized meeting at the National Defense University in Washington was taking place amid signs China is more willing at this time to discuss how the two world powers would manage an even worse emergency on the divided Korean Peninsula. The Pentagon stressed the talks were scheduled long before North Korea’s surprise missile launch in the early hours Wednesday in Asia. Officials insisted the dialogue wasn’t centered on North Korea or anything else in particular.
EGYPT WELCOMES RUSSIAN MILITARY AIRCRAFT BACK ON ITS SOIL AFTER DECADES OF EXCLUSION: Russia has approved a draft agreement with Egypt for Russian warplanes to use Egyptian military bases, according to a document released Thursday, a deal that would allow Moscow to further increase its military footprint in the Mideast. The directive, signed by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and published on the official portal of legal information, endorses the draft prepared by the Russian Defense Ministry and instructs it to sign the deal with Egypt when it's ready. The Russia-Egypt deal, which would allow each country's warplanes to use air bases of the other, is to last five years and could be extended further if agreed. For Egypt, the deal is significant as President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi's government has expanded military ties with Russia and signed deals to buy Russian fighter jets, helicopters and other weapons.