After arriving in Warsaw early Friday morning for a NATO summit in what is expected to be his final presidential trip to the continent, U.S. President Barack Obama said he expects a smooth break-up between Britain and the European Union.
“As difficult as it will be, I am confident that the UK and the EU will be able to agree on an orderly transition to a new relationship, as all our countries stay focused on ensuring financial stability and growing the global economy,” Obama wrote in an op-ed for the Financial Times.
While Obama said the British vote to leave the EU “raises serious questions” about the future for integration within the European continent, he said the United States and Britain will still enjoy a special relationship.
“I have no doubt that the UK will remain one of NATO’s most capable members - a nation that pays its full share for our common security and is a leading contributor to alliance missions,” he wrote.
Obama will join the leaders of other NATO members for the two-day summit in Warsaw before heading to Spain; his first presidential trip to the country. On Friday morning, Obama is scheduled to meet with European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. White House officials say the trio will discuss Obama’s suggestions for how to move forward with the Brexit negotiations.
President Barack Obama walks down the steps of Air Force One after arriving at Chopin Airport in Warsaw, Poland, Friday, July 8, 2016.
Brexit discussions will likely take up a large portion of the summit, but Obama also mentioned recent Islamic State terrorist attacks and Russian aggression in Ukraine as major threats to Europe’s future.
On Saturday, Obama will meet with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to discuss a Russian peace deal that faltered last year, in hopes of easing the tensions between Moscow and Kyiv.
Leaders at the summit are also expected to extend the NATO training mission in Iraq and send troops to Poland and Estonia to help relieve concerns over Russia.
A tent stands ready to welcome the heads of the 28 NATO members and other officials for a NATO summit at the National Stadium in Warsaw, Poland, Thursday, July 7, 2016.