Opeyemi Salau

 

Theresa May will hold a joint press conference later today with Donald Trump, the US president’s first such Questions & Answers with the media since entering the White House.

It will be the first time Mr Trump will have faced the gathered media since his combative encounter at Trump Tower last month when he blasted CNN as “fake news” and dismissed Buzzfeed as “failing pile of garbage”.

In his first week in office, the president has repeatedly criticised news organisations over the coverage of his inauguration, saying they had lied in reporting that attendance had been no better than average.

Kellyanne Conway, a senior aide to Mr Trump, sparked a row for saying the administration was presenting “alternative facts” while Steve Bannon, Mr Trump’s chief strategist, said the White House considered the media to be America’s real “opposition party”.

Mr Trump’s decision to grant a press conference, which will take place at 1pm local time (6pm GMT), may expose differences between him and the prime minister on issues such as torture.

Mrs May has said the UK will not shift from its condemnation of torture, while Mr Trump has indicated he is ready to use techniques like waterboarding in the fight against terror. “Absolutely I think it works,” he told ABC News on Wednesday.

The pair could also face questions about Russia. The president has vowed to have better relations with Vladimir Putin than his predecessor and this month he suggested he could lift sanctions imposed on Moscow by the Obama administration.

Mr Trump is planning to speak with Mr Putin on Saturday in their first conversation since his inauguration, an administration official told CNN on Thursday.

In a speech to US Republicans in Philadelphia on Thursday, Mrs May evoked Reagan-Thatcher ties as she warned Mr Trump to “beware” of the Russian leader.

“We should not jeopardise 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,” she said.

The Prime Minister, who will become the first foreign leader to visit Mr Trump at the White House, is hoping to renew the special relationship between Britain and America.

The two leaders will spend about an hour in face-to-face talks in the Oval Office, where Mr Trump has restored a bust of Winston Churchill removed by predecessor Barack Obama.

Top of the agenda for Mrs May will be preparations for a free trade deal between the UK and US after Britain has withdrawn from the European Union.

As she arrived in the US, Mrs May said Brexit and the election of Mr Trump would allow Britain and America to take up a stronger leadership role in the world.

Culled from The Telegraph