UK Prime Minister Theresa May has refused to condemn President Donald Trump's controversial ban on refugees and entry to the US for seven Muslim-majority nations.
May is in the Turkish capital of Ankara, where she has met President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and held a joint press conference with Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım.
During her visit to Turkey she gave the green light to a £100m ($125m) deal that will see UK company BAE systems build a new generation of TF-X fighter jets for Turkish Aerospace Industries as well as discussing future business deals between the two countries, global terrorism and the migration crisis.
During the joint press conference with Yıldırım the British PM was asked if Trump's latest executive order banning Syrian refugees from entering the US indefinitely and halting visas for citizens from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia and Libya was as an "action of the leader of the free world" by Sky News political editor Faisal Islam.
The executive order has two elements. It suspends the US Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days, including citizens from the above countries, and Syria indefinitely. It also halts the admission of residents of the above countries for 90 days while the government determines what information it needs to safely admit visitors.
Trump says this is to battle any influx of foreign terrorist to the US. But reports suggest that as soon as the order was passed citizens from the seven nations were not allowed to board flights for the US and some travellers were even told to return to their country of origin at US airports – even if they were carrying a US green card visa.
Only yesterday (27 January) May was spotted holding hands with the new President at the White House, in Washington, where the pair pledged their commitment to the "special relationship".
Dodging Islam's question the Prime Minister said she was "very pleased" to have met Trump in Washington, before hailing Turkey's reception of an estimated three million refugees, mostly from Syria. She then outlined Britain's support in tackling the migrant crisis, both in the UK and in the Middle East.
In response, former Labour leader Ed Miliband took to Twitter to say: "PM's refusal to condemn Trump Muslim ban is shocking, wrong and cannot stand. It flies in the face of the values of people across Britain."
In contrast, Yıldırım said UN members "cannot turn a blind eye to this issue and settle it by constructing walls".
"Nobody leaves their homes for nothing, they came here to save their lives and our doors were open… and we would do it again," he added. "If there is someone in need, you need to give them a helping hand to make sure they survive."
The BBC has reported that Donald Trump's executive order includes:
- Banning entry from refugees from Syria until "significant changes" are made,
- 90-day suspension on arrivals from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen (except certain visa categories such as diplomats), and
- a cap of 50,000 refugees in 2017 - less than the 110,000 upper limit imposed by former President Obama.
- Allows refugee applications from those in religious minorities to take priority.