Hailing Brexit – a referendum for Britain’s exit from European Union — as a blessing to the world, US President Donald Trump has said it would give the UK its “own identity” as he met British Prime Minister Theresa May in his first summit with a foreign leader since his inauguration.
“I think when it irons out, you’re going to have your own identity, and you are going to have the people that you want in your country,” Trump said as he hosted May at the White House.
“You’re going to be able to make free trade deals without having somebody watching you and what you are doing,” he said.
May was greeted in person by Trump when she arrived at the White House and the two leaders then met at the Oval Office.
At a joint press conference, Trump reiterated his support for Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, saying, “A free and independent Britain is a blessing to the world and our relationship has never been stronger.”
Both leaders said they would work to strengthen US and the UK’s commercial ties, with the British Prime Minister hoping that a swift trade deal with Washington will mitigate the effects of Brexit.
During their meeting, May extended an invite to Trump to make a state visit to Britain. Trump will visit Britain later this year.
The US-UK defence relationship is the deepest of any two countries, May said during the press conference. She also said a trade deal between the two countries is in the national interests of both.
During the press meet, Trump also spoke on controversial topics like the use of torture as he reiterated his support for harsh interrogation techniques but said he will defer to his Pentagon chief, who opposes their use.
The meeting was being watched with global interest as the two countries seek to find common ground on trade and lay the groundwork for a new deal following last year’s Brexit vote in favour of the UK to leave the European Union.
It was also Trump’s first tryst with face-to-face diplomacy as he welcomed his first foreign visitor to the White House.
During the press meet, Trump also played down speculation that he is about to lift sanctions on Russia.
Asked by reporters whether he was planning to lift Russia sanctions, he said: “It’s very early to be talking about that.”
Meanwhile, May said Britain believes sanctions should continue until Russia upholds its commitments of the international Minsk Agreement. May also said that Trump vowed ‘100 per cent’ support for NATO.
(With inputs from the Agencies)