WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States wants Britain to remain a strong leader in Europe even as it begins its withdrawal from the European Union, the Trump administration said on Wednesday (March 29).
"We respect the will of the British electorate and her majesty's government in taking steps of departing the European Union," White House spokesman Sean Spicer said.
"Whatever future the UK-EU relationship looks like, we want the UK to remain a strong leader in Europe," he said.
Nine months after a referendum on Brexit that continues to divide the country, the British ambassador to the EU, Tim Barrow, delivered a letter Wednesday to European Council President Donald Tusk formally launching the process that will lead to Britain's withdrawal.
President Donald Trump has irritated European leaders by praising Britain's exit from the European Union and predicting that other countries would follow.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has told US Vice President Mike Pence that Trump should refrain from urging other countries to leave the EU, warning in an interview with the Financial Times last week that if the EU collapses war in the Balkans would follow.
Spicer was asked about Junker's comment that Trump did not appear interested in European affairs.
"The President is very well-steeped in world affairs, especially Europe, Nato," Spicer said.