Trump protestors urged to stay 'safe and peaceful'

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Image caption,
Mr Trump last visited Scotland in June 2016 - the day after the EU referendum

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf has urged people protesting during Donald Trump's visit to Scotland to do so "safely and peacefully".

The US president is arriving in the UK on Thursday, and is expected to spend the weekend in Scotland.

Protests against Mr Trump and his administration's policies have been organised in several Scottish cities.

After being briefed by police, Mr Yousaf said protests must be carried out in a "safe and peaceful manner".

Police Scotland said the presidential visit would require a "significant policing operation, involving thousands of officers and specialist resources".

President Trump is setting off for a week-long tour of Europe, with talks in Brussels about the future of Nato first up, before meetings with the Queen and Prime Minster Theresa May in England on Thursday.

The president is then expected to head north for the weekend - potentially visiting one of the two golf resorts he owns, in Aberdeenshire and Ayrshire - ahead of a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on Monday.

Mr Trump's mother was born on the Scottish island of Lewis, and he made several visits to his "ancestral home" before he became president.

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His last visit to the UK, on the day after the EU referendum, was his first foreign trip as the Republican candidate for the presidency.

A small crowd of protestors gathered at Turnberry on that occasion, but far more are expected at events in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen now that he is in office.

Some political leaders backed the rallies, with Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard criticising the president's "politics of hate" and Green co-convener Patrick Harvie calling him a "vile xenophobe".

Mr Yousaf said he was confident Police Scotland would come up with a "professional and effective" response to the visit, "facilitating peaceful protest".

He said: "We understand that many people feel very strongly about President Trump and his administration's policies, and will want to express that this weekend when he is in the country.

"That is why there are a number of organised protest locations across the country this weekend and I would urge people who want to exercise their right to demonstrate in those locations, to do so in a safe and peaceful manner."

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Image caption,
Protestors gathered outside Turnberry during Mr Trump's last visit to Scotland

The UK government has agreed to pay for up to £5m of policing costs for the visit to Scotland, with warnings that it will pile pressure on police forces.

Police Scotland Assistant Chief Constable Mark Williams said "detailed planning is already well under way" for a "significant policing operation".

He said: "Whilst the exact details of his programme are still being finalised, our objectives will be to ensure the safety of the president and of those travelling with him and to maintain public safety.

"In addition, we will work closely with ‎any groups to facilitate lawful protest."

'Very good relationship'

Mr Trump has already stirred some controversy, telling reporters as he left the White House for the trip that the UK was in "turmoil".

Mrs May has just been forced into a reshuffle of her cabinet after the resignations of Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Brexit Secretary David Davis, and the US president said the UK "certainly has a lot of things going on".

Asked whether Mrs May should stay on, he said "that's up to the people", adding that he has a "very good relationship" with the prime minister.

However, he added that he had "always liked" Mr Johnson, saying: "Boris Johnson is a friend of mine. He's been very, very nice to me, very supportive. Maybe I'll speak to him when I get over there."

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