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US diplomat praises ‘unbelievable’ Bermuda

Hamilton, Bermuda

Written by Paul Johnston, senior reporter, The Royal Gazette

Bermuda and its people punch well above their weight, a top American diplomat said yesterday.

Robert Wood Johnson, the United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom, added: “One of the things that I think really surprises an outsider coming into Bermuda … is the unbelievable capability of this small island.

“You can’t think of anything that’s quite like this. Everything that I see is excellent.”

Mr Johnson was speaking on his first visit to Bermuda as an ambassador, although he has visited in a private capacity.

He said that the trip was to “see what’s happening … both on a prosperity and economic side, and also some of what’s happening socially”.

Mr Johnson met David Burt, the Premier, Craig Cannonier, the Opposition leader, and John Rankin, the Governor.

He said he had discussed Bermuda’s plans for the island.

Mr Johnson added that the relationship between Bermuda and the US was “very solid”.

He said: “I think you would even call it a special relationship.”

Mr Johnson added that he did not think the UK’s decision to quit the European Union would damage links between the US and Bermuda.

He said: “Brexit is something that will not affect the long-term relationship, because of the strength, because of the 400-year history.”

Mr Johnson also met representatives of the island’s insurance industry. He said: “I was once again extremely impressed by the talent that you have — both the industry itself, and the governance and the regulators of that industry, I think are world class.

“You’ve really got something to be proud of.”

He added that Bermuda’s insurance industry leaders were “looking into the future”.

Mr Johnson said that the relationship between the UK and the US is “as solid as it has ever been”.

He added: “I see that up close and personal.”

Donald Trump, the President of the United States, yesterday said on Twitter that the US “will no longer deal with” Sir Kim Darroch, the UK Ambassador to the US.

Mr Trump later said Sir Kim was “wacky” and a “very stupid guy”.

He added: “I don’t know the ambassador but have been told he is a pompous fool.”

Mr Johnson declined to comment on Mr Trump’s views.

He said: “That’s something that’s playing out, and we’ll see how that progresses.”

E-mails leaked at the weekend showed that Sir Kim had called Trump “inept,” “insecure” and “incompetent”.

But Mr Johnson claimed that Mr Trump was viewed “very favourably” in the UK “despite what one might read”.

He added: “One of my jobs is going around the country — all around the UK — and talking with the people and getting their views.

“And I hear nothing but positives about the President and what he’s accomplished in the US — the growth, the optimism, the jobs.”

Mr Johnson claimed the favourable opinion was shared by British politicians.

He said: “I talk to the leadership quite often, and I hear positive things.

“They look to what he’s accomplished in just a little over two years, and I think they would have liked to have accomplished the same thing.”

Mr Johnson was nominated by Mr Trump for the job on June 22, 2017.

He has served for more than 30 years as the chairman and chief executive of The Johnson Company, and the chairman and chief executive of the New York Jets since 2000.

Mr Johnson donated $1 million to Mr Trump’s inaugural fund.

He said that his close friendship with the President helped him to perform in his post as ambassador.

Mr Johnson added: “I’ve known him for so long — I know who he is and what is he.

“I can interpret what he is saying. He’s misinterpreted quite frequently.

“Part of what I do is interpret his policy and what he’s doing and try to have people understand where he’s going, and what he’s doing, and why he’s doing it.”

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