Borders MP David Mundell has defended the official welcome to Scotland given to US president Donald Trump during his controversial visit to the UK last week.
Rolling out the red carpet for Mr Trump despite the visit triggering protests across the country was the right thing to do, according to the Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale MP.
He was speaking after greeting the US president at Glasgow Prestwick Airport in South Ayrshire on Friday night.
In his role as Scottish Secretary, Mr Mundell shook hands and had a brief chat with Mr Trump, accompanied by first lady Melania Trump, after Air Force One landed at around 8.30pm.
The couple then headed on to the Trump Turnberry resort near Girvan for the final part of their four-day visit to the UK.
After greeting the Trumps as they disembarked from their aeroplane, Mr Mundell insisted that it was important to give a formal and respectful welcome to the 72-year-old, elected as US president in November 2016 and in office since January the following year.
He said: “We have really important economic, security and cultural links with the United States and should respectfully welcome their duly-elected head of state.
“Obviously, there are a range of things on which I, and our UK Government, do not agree with President Trump, as do many people across Scotland, some of whom have used their right to protest to make their views known during the visit.
“I felt, though, it was right to greet President Trump on his arrival and to wish him well for his visit here.’
“I was pleased to greet Mr Trump on behalf of the UK Government when he arrived in Scotland. The UK and the USA a have long and important relationship, and the US is one of our most important security allies.”
“The president’s visit is an opportunity to strengthen those vital links.
“We have an open democracy here. People are entitled to say what they want and convey whatever message they want. That’s a great thing about our country.
“But I believe that it’s appropriate that we give a formal welcome to a head of state of the United States of America, the duly elected president, whoever that person is and whether we agree or not with their views or policies.
“I wanted to make it clear that he was being welcomed to Scotland as the president of the United States and that we value the strong relationship we have between Scotland and America.”
Recounting his conversation with the president, Mr Mundell said: “He explained to me how much he enjoyed visiting Scotland and how pleased he was to now come here as president.
“He obviously feels strongly about his mother’s Scottish heritage.
“He was looking forward to playing golf at the Turnberry resort and hoping the course was not too dry.”
Mr Trump, the 45th president of the US, left Scotland yesterday and is now in Finland for a summit with Russian leader Vladimir Putin.