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LONDON – A state visit to Britain by President Donald Trump later this year will go ahead, the British prime minister's office said Monday, despite increasing calls for it to be canceled over his temporary ban on residents of seven majority-Muslim countries entering the U.S.
"An invitation has been extended and accepted," Prime Minister Theresa May's Downing St. office said.
No date has been announced for the state visit, which involves lavish pomp and ceremony, often with a stay at Buckingham Palace hosted by Queen Elizabeth II.
The visit was announced by May during her visit to meet Trump in Washington on Friday, and hailed by government officials as a sign of the close trans-Atlantic relationship.
But criticism of May's wooing of Trump erupted when — only hours after the prime minister had left the White House — the president signed an executive order suspending all travel to the U.S. of citizens of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Yemen and Libya for 90 days. The order also bars all refugees entering the country for 120 days.
Britain's three biggest opposition parties have all called for Trump's state visit to be canceled and an online petition opposing the trip has more than 1 million signatures. Protests against the travel ban are planned Monday in London and other British cities.
Any petition with more than 100,000 signatures must be considered for a debate in Parliament, though not a binding vote.
Last year, Parliament debated whether to ban Trump, then a presidential candidate, from visiting Britain after a similar online petition was filed.
Trump's travel ban sparked protests at airports across the U.S., along with expressions of condemnation and concern from around the world.
There was widespread confusion about whether the ban applied to dual nationals. Somali-born British Olympic champion runner Mo Farah said he feared it would prevent him returning to the U.S. where he lives.
Late Sunday, Britain's Foreign Office said U.S. authorities had clarified that the ban didn't apply to British citizens who are also nationals of one of the seven countries. Canada's foreign minister said he had been told the same about Canadian dual nationals.
The British exemption didn't end the storm of opposition, with prominent members of May's Conservative Party joining in calls for Trump's visit to be scrapped.
Sayeeda Warsi, a former government minister and Conservative member of the House of Lords, said Trump was "a man who has no respect for women, disdain for minorities, little value for LGBT communities, no compassion for the vulnerable and whose policies are rooted in divisive rhetoric."
"Those who run and govern this country bowing down to a man who holds the views that he holds, values which are not the same as British values, I think is sending out a very wrong signal," she told the BBC.