White House backtracks on Trump's UK snub

The "special relationship" is again under strain, with Donald Trump cancelling his visit to the UK

The White House says that President Donald Trump's tweet cancelling a trip to London was in reference to a visit for the opening of the new US embassy and that efforts to schedule a later state visit continue.

Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Friday that the United States is "still working with our UK allies to find a date for a visit for the invitation that was offered and accepted".

Trump said in a late-night tweet on Thursday that he had decided not to come to London to open the new US embassy. He said it was due to concerns about the embassy's move from the elite Mayfair district to a less fashionable area of London.

The British government has extended Trump an invitation for a state visit. But nothing has been scheduled.

The cancellation is a further blow to relations between the allies. More than a year into his presidency, Trump has yet to visit London, with many Britons vowing to protest against a man they see as crude, volatile and opposed to their values on a range of issues.

The decision to acquire a new London embassy site on the south bank of the Thames was announced in 2008 under George W. Bush along with the plans to put the old Grosvenor Square site in upscale Mayfair up for sale.

Prime Minister Theresa May was the first foreign leader to visit Trump, and they were filmed emerging from the White House holding hands. She later said Trump took her hand in a gentlemanly gesture as they walked down a ramp.

But British officials have been dismayed by some of Trump's pronouncements, particularly a proposed ban on Muslims entering the United States and most recently when Trump rebuked May on Twitter after she criticised him for retweeting British far-right anti-Islam videos.

May's spokesman told reporters Trump was welcome in London and that the invitation to visit had been accepted, although no date agreed.

Many British politicians have voiced their opposition to Trump being granted a state visit, and say the invite should be recalled.

"Many Londoners have made it clear that Donald Trump is not welcome here while he is pursuing such a divisive agenda," London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who has often exchanged barbs with Trump on social media, tweeted.

"It seems he's finally got the message."

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said opponents such as Khan were putting the relationship with the United States, the biggest investor in Britain, at risk.

The new embassy is a veritable fortress set back at least 30 metres from surrounding buildings and incorporating living quarters for US Marines permanently stationed inside.

The $US1 billion construction was funded by the sale of other properties in London.