Rex Tillerson to visit UK after information leak suspends intelligence sharing

Rex Tillerson will make his first visit to Britain amid a transatlantic spat over intelligence leaks in the wake of the deadly Manchester terror attack.

IANS May 26, 2017 16:53:47 IST
Rex Tillerson to visit UK after information leak suspends intelligence sharing

Washington: US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will make his first official visit to Britain on Friday amid a transatlantic spat over intelligence leaks in the wake of the deadly Manchester terror attack.

Tillerson is scheduled to meet British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, "in an expression of UK-US solidarity following the terrorist attack in Manchester earlier this week", a Foreign Office statement said.

Rex Tillerson to visit UK after information leak suspends intelligence sharing

Tribute paid to the victims of the Manchester attacks. Reuters

It comes after senior British government officials lambasted the US over a series of high-profile leaks to the American media of details surrounding the Manchester bombing investigation.

British Prime Minister Theresa May confronted US President Donald Trump about the leaks during their meeting at the NATO headquarters in Brussels on Thursday, CNN reported.

US sources were the first to reveal the identity of the suicide bomber, leading to concern that police efforts to hunt down his associates could be impacted. The leaks culminated in the New York Times publishing crime scene photos.

Tillerson and Johnson will meet at Carlton Gardens, the official residence of the foreign secretary.

They will likely discuss a range of issues that include foreign policy, future action on terrorism, Britain's 8 June general election and the improvement of trade ties.

Tillerson and Johnson will also sign a condolence book for the victims of the Manchester attack.

Trump, in a written statement, described the leaks as "deeply troubling".

The breakdown of trust between the two countries led to the brief suspension on the sharing of intelligence on Thursday.

Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said the decision to stop sharing information was taken because they couldn't "afford to risk it anymore".

Later on Thursday, after receiving "fresh assurances", the suspension was lifted, according to the National Police Chiefs' Council.

There have been multiple arrests and other significant developments in the Manchester bombing investigation.

So far, 10 people have been arrested at addresses in Manchester, Wigan and Nuneaton. Eight remain in custody.

Suicide bomber Salman Abedi likely received some IS training when he travelled to Syria in the months before the attack, according to information gathered in the preliminary investigation.

As police raids continued, specially trained firearms officers were being assigned patrol duty for the first time in Britain.

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