HONG KONG: Donald Trump is an enormously successful businessman who should be welcomed to the British capital, London's Lord Mayor said Friday during a visit to Hong Kong, despite huge public antipathy towards him.
More than 1.8 million Britons have signed a petition demanding that the US president's invitation to make a state visit be withdrawn because it would embarrass Queen Elizabeth.
But Lord Mayor Andrew Parmley -- a ceremonial figurehead whose role dates back 900 years -- said the city's business community wanted to work with Trump.
"It's too early for us to really evaluate what the political situation is," he told AFP.
"But my view is that Donald Trump has been an enormously successful businessman. He's a dealmaker. The City of London has made its fortunes by being a dealmaker. So we're very much hoping to work with him."
Britain's Daily Telegraph has reported the visit could be moved out of London to an area deemed to be more a receptive to Trump.
Asked whether he would be disappointed if the visit was shifted from the capital, Parmley said: "I don't think it will be."
"We have to embrace the fact that we are world citizens and he is the leader of the free world," he told AFP.
Thousands of people took to the streets in London earlier this month to protest Trump's travel ban on nationals of seven mainly Muslim countries.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan -- the elected leader of Greater London's eight million citizens -- has repeatedly criticised Trump, and spoke out vociferously against his ban.