Jan. 27 (UPI) — One day before her first private sit-down with U.S. President Donald Trump, British Prime Minister Theresa May told Trump and Republican members of Congress, on Thursday during a GOP gathering, that the United States must not pull back too far from international engagement.
May addressed the annual Republican retreat on Thursday in Philadelphia, calling for a renewal of the “special relationship” between the two countries as each goes through significant changes, with May guiding her country’s withdrawal from the European Union and Trump promising a realignment of U.S. economic and foreign policy.
As British leaders grapple with how to fulfill their voters’ vote in favor of the Brexit, Trump has made a renegotiation of NAFTA and other trade deals, as well as shifts in how the United States works with NATO and the United Nations. These moves suggest the two countries can find a new role to engage the world, she said.
“This cannot mean a return to the failed policies of the past. The days of Britain and America intervening in sovereign countries in an attempt to remake the world in our own image are over,” May said. “But nor can we afford to stand idly by when the threat is real and when it is in our own interests to intervene. We must be strong, smart and hard-headed. And we must demonstrate the resolve necessary to stand up for our interests.”
The annual retreat generally focuses on GOP legislative goals for the next year, though meetings this year could be more indicative of what Republicans will do because they have both houses of Congress, as well as the White House.
May sought to shore up support for international orders as a method of leadership in challenging parts of the world, especially the Middle East, as the best way to counter threats to peace. “America’s leadership role in NATO — supported by Britain — must be the central element around which the alliance is built,” May said in the speech.
May also urged caution about dealing with Russian President Vladimir Putin, suggesting Trump and the United States “engage but beware” as a new relationship between the countries is forged by the two leaders. “We should not jeopardize the freedoms that President Reagan and Mrs. Thatcher brought to Eastern Europe by accepting President Putin’s claim that it is now in his sphere of influence.”
Trump and May are set to meet Friday at the White House, the first time Trump has met with a foreign leader since taking his inauguration a week ago. The meeting is likely to be dominated with issues of trade and economy, but a plethora of other issues are likely to come up.