DAVOS, Switzerland (CBSNewYork/AP) — President Donald Trump is in Switzerland attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, the first sitting president to attend the annual summit since Bill Clinton in 2000.
As he arrived at the summit venue, the president was asked about his message for the gathering of world leaders, business executives and celebrities. He said it’s about “peace and prosperity.”
The president met privately with British Prime Minister Theresa May and during a photo-op, downplayed division with May and promised to work together on economic development.
“The prime minister and myself have had a really great relationship, although some people don’t necessarily believe that,” Trump said. “I have tremendous respect for the prime minister and the job she’s doing and I think the feeling is mutual from the standpoint of liking each other a lot.”
May said the “special relationship” between the U.S. and the U.K. continues.
The president also met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“We have discussions going on with Israel on many things, including trade,” Trump said.
Netanyahu praised Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to move the U.S. Embassy there from Tel Aviv.
“This is a historic decision that will be forever etched in the hearts of our people for generations to come,” Netanyahu said.
The president said U.S. aid to the Palestinians is “on the table” but they won’t get it “unless they sit down and negotiate peace.”
It was the first time both leaders have met since Trump declared that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The president said the embassy in Jerusalem will open in 2019.
“That is way ahead of schedule by years and we anticipate having a small version of it open sometime next year and it’s an honor,” he said.
The president also had a stern message for the Palestinian leadership.
“When they disrespected us a week ago by not allowing our great Vice President to see them, and we give them hundreds of millions of dollars in aid and support – tremendous numbers, numbers that nobody understands. That money is on the table and that money is not going to them unless they sit down and negotiate peace,” he said.
Trump was referring to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas refusing to meet with Vice President Mike Pence and delivering a fiery speech, in which he told the president “shame on you” for relocating the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, among other issues.
At the United Nations, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley blasted Abba’s harsh rhetoric.
“He rejected any American role in peace talks, he insulted the American president, he called for suspending recognition of Israel,” she said.
A Palestinian spokesperson said Trump’s remarks were unacceptable, but the president said he still has hope for peace.
“It’s many years of killing people, it’s many years of killing each other. They have to be tired and disgusted of it, so let’s see what happens,” he said.
Shortly before leaving Washington, Trump held an impromptu press conference with reporters where he insisted his administration’s tax cuts and deregulation will make the U.S. more appealing to foreign investors.
“I’m going to Davos to get them to bring back a lot of money,” he said. “They’re going to invest a lot of money in this country.”
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin arrived in Davos a day before the president. He surprised many economists by praising a weaker U.S. dollar, claiming it helps with trade.
“It’s really all about economic growth, opportunities to invest, free and fair trade,” he said.
Some at the conference view Mnuchin’s statements and recent U.S. decisions on trade as a sign of protectionism. Leaders from Germany, India and Italy though, are among those urging against such policies.
“We need free trade, free market and not protectionism,” said Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.
Meanwhile, Trump is preparing to address the forum on Friday, where he is expected to emphasize ‘America First,’ CBS2’s Dick Brennan reported.
Thursday evening, he had dinner with people he called the greatest businessmen in the world.
“I just want to say that there has been a lot of warmth, a lot of respect for our country and a lot of money, billions and billions of dollars coming into the U.S,” he said.
Trump aides say his speech to the forum will emphasize strong but fair trade and he will push foreign investment in the United States, touting tax cuts and lower regulation as big incentives.
The president arrived in Davos with two issues lingering over him back at home: Immigration and the Russia investigation, CBS2’s Chris Wragge reported.
At that same pre-flight Q-and-A with reporters, the president insisted he’s looking forward to being interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
“I would do it under oath, absolutely,” he said.
Trump also spoke on DACA. When asked about a path towards citizenship for immigrants brought here illegally as children, he said “it’s going to happen at some point in the future over a period of 10 to 12 years.”
Meanwhile, Mayor Bill de Blasio was in Washington on Wednesday where he was scheduled to have a face-to-face meeting with the president as part of the U.S. Conference of Mayors when he backed out at the last minute in protest.
It was an opportunity for de Blasio to petition the president for federal funding, but the mayor refused to attend because hours before the scheduled meeting, the Justice Department threatened to subpoena New York City and 22 other sanctuary cities if they failed to turn over law enforcement records on immigrants, some of whom are in prison.
“I was shocked, it made no sense. The whole thing was a charade,” de Blasio said. “The very first and only time they’ve invited America’s mayors to the White House, they attack literally a list of America’s cities.”
Other mayors from across the country also boycotting the meeting, the Associated Press reported.
The president responded, saying “the mayors who choose to boycott this event have put the needs of criminal illegal immigrants over law-abiding Americans.”
“But let me tell you, the vast majority of people showed up,” Trump said.
Trump spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders added that if mayors have a problem with the Justice Department’s actions, “they should talk to the Congress, the people that pass the laws. The Department of Justice enforces them, and as long as that is the law, the Department of Justice is going to strongly enforce it.”
As for the mayors, she said the White House would love to work with them, “but we cannot allow people to pick and choose what laws they want to follow.”
“If we have a country with no laws, then nothing matters,” Sanders added.
The 23 jurisdictions that received letters Wednesday include cities in California, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. Officials said the places were previously warned that they need to provide information about their policies to be eligible to receive grants that pay for everything from bulletproof vests to officer overtime.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)