Washington: US President Donald Trump has said that he may travel to Israel for the inauguration of the new American embassy in Jerusalem.
"I may go (to Jerusalem).. Very proud of it. Jerusalem has been a subject that's been promised for many years, as you know, the embassy in Jerusalem. It's been promised for many, many years by presidents. They all made campaign promises, and they never had the courage to carry it out. I carried it out," Trump told reporters at a joint White House news conference with the visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
He said, "It's getting ready to open, and I do want to tell that story though, because there are a couple of people that got to see it, but others, where literally, they were going to spend a billion dollars, and we're spending a tiny, tiny fraction of that, in the hundreds of thousands of dollars instead. And it will be very nice. Maybe it'll be nicer than a billion-dollar building."
Trump said he reduced the construction of new embassy in Jerusalem from USD 1 billion to a "fraction of the cost". He also gave an insight into the internal White House deliberations on the new US embassy in Jerusalem.
"Somebody said, 'Could I tell this story?' And they came to me with a proposal for a USD 1 billion embassy in Jerusalem, and the papers ? (Vice President) Mike Pence can tell you -- the papers were put before me to sign an application for more than USD1 billion to build an embassy," Trump said.
"I said, 'What are you talking about, USD1 billion?' You know, most embassies are like a single story. And they said, 'Yes, sir. It's USD1 billion'. And I had my name half-signed, then I noticed the figure, and I just didn't -- I never got to the word 'Trump". I had "Donald" signed, but I never got to the word "Trump."
Trump said, thereafter, he told his ambassador to Israel. "I said, 'What's this $ 1 billion?' He said, 'I can build it for USD 150,000'. I said, 'What?' He said, 'I can build it for USD 150,000, the embassy. We have a building. We have the site. We already own the site. We own the building. I can take a corner of the building, and for USD 150,000, we can fix it up, make it beautiful, open our embassy. Instead of in 10 years from now, we can open it up in three months.' And that's what we did".
Trump said he then told the ambassador that they should not go from USD 1 billion to USD 150,000. "Let's go to USD3-USD400,000". And that's what we did. It's going to be beautiful, and it'll be somewhat temporary, but it could be for many years, because by the time they build it the other way, it's going to be many, many years. They were looking for sites. We already have a site, and we have a great site. The site's better than anything you could imagine," he said.
"But that's the way government works. They were going to spend USD 1 billion, and we're going to spend much less than a half a million. Could have done it for much less than that, but I said, 'Let's make it really nice'. So that's what it is," Trump said.