Leaders who wooed Trump face tricky reset

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said a lot of nice things about Donald Trump over the years, from expressing admiration for the U.S. president to suggesting he might be worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize.

But after a mob of Trump supporters invaded the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, Johnson has changed his tune.

Trump, he said, had encouraged the violent insurrection, had disputed the result of a “free and fair election,” and was “completely wrong.”

It was a dramatic pivot for someone who has often been compared to Trump and refrained for years from openly criticizing him. Other world leaders also have faced dilemmas in dealing with the volatile and unpredictable president who trashed international agreements and institutions with abandon. But Johnson’s critics say his years of flattering — and, some say, imitating — Trump have harmed Britain’s international authority and poisoned its political culture.

Leslie Vinjamuri, director of the U.S. and the Americas program at the Chatham House think tank, said the issue of how to deal with Trump has been “the biggest question in in Western diplomacy for the past four years.”

“And I would say that the U.K. was on the wrong side of it,” she said.

Johnson is not the only Western leader who sought to befriend, persuade or placate Trump. French President Emmanuel Macron had an early bromance with the U.S. president, inviting Trump to Paris in 2017 for a Bastille Day military parade and dinner at the Eiffel Tower. Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, visited the White House just days after Trump’s inauguration and was photographed holding the president’s hand.

Both relationships soon turned sour, but Johnson was more successful in keeping on the good side of a president who praised him, ungrammatically, as “Britain Trump.”

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Source: Associated Press