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US Pledges Close Cooperation With Britain’s New Cabinet

  • VOA News

Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington, July 12, 2016.

Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington, July 12, 2016.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson have pledged to work closely together as NATO allies to address challenges and meet responsibilities around the world, according to the State Department.

In their first telephone conversation, Kerry offered his congratulations to newly appointed Johnson in the top British diplomatic post.

The two agreed the U.S. - British special relationship is as essential as ever in face of the present dynamic of world affairs.

Kerry stressed U.S. support for a sensible and measured approach to the Brexit process and offered to stay engaged as Britain's government develops its plans, a statement said.

They also touched upon the situation in Syria, the broader Middle East and agreed to meet at next week's Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels.

Speaking Thursday in London, Johnson also pledged to reshape Britain's global profile. Addressing the Brexit referendum to leave the European Union, he said that it “does not mean in any sense leaving Europe,” adding that “there is a massive difference between leaving the EU and our relations with Europe, which if anything I think will intensify and be built up at an inter-governmental level.”

FILE - European Parliament President Martin Schulz gives a statement after the conference of Presidents at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, June 24, 2016.

FILE - European Parliament President Martin Schulz gives a statement after the conference of Presidents at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, June 24, 2016.

Earlier Thursday, European Parliament chief Martin Schulz blasted the Cabinet picks of new British Prime Minister Theresa May as part of a “dangerously vicious cycle” that will hurt Britons in the long run.

According to Schulz, the Cabinet picks were designed more to solve internal party political issues than to promote the national interests of Britain.

"We will work constructively with the newly elected British government in these difficult times, as we have in the past," Schulz said Thursday in a statement. "However, the composition of the new Cabinet shows that the focus is less on the future of the country, but more about satisfying the internal cohesion of the Tory Party.”

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault branded his British counterpart “a liar” in an interview Thursday with the popular Europe-1 radio network.

Ayrault said people had seen Johnson’s style during the referendum campaign, adding that he "lied a lot to the British people" while campaigning to leave the European Union.

Johnson has an uphill struggle ahead of him, Ayrault said, adding that “now he is the one to have his back against the wall, to defend his country and to clarify his relationship with Europe".

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Johnson is a crafty party politician who managed to use the Euroskeptic mood for himself.

But completely different political tasks now stand at the forefront, he told Bild am Sonntag newspaper. “This is about taking foreign policy responsibility beyond Brexit,” Steinmeier said.

Germany's influential Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, however, signaled a willingness to forget past statements by Johnson.

Before last month's referendum on EU membership, Johnson compared the bloc's aims with those of Adolf Hitler.

Asked Thursday what he expected of working with Johnson, given such comments, Schaeuble said “we in Germany have had good experience with putting comments made during a campaign into the file for election campaigns, and forgetting them on the day after the democratic decision has been made.”

Johnson led the campaign to drop out of the EU. He angered and frustrated many Britons who voted to remain, along with other European leaders who believe Britain made a great mistake.

Conservative lawmaker David Davis took the newly formed job of minister in charge of negotiations with the European Union that will set up the conditions for leaving. Those talks are expected to take as long as two years.

Thursday, May announced more Cabinet appointments, placing strongly anti-EU figures in key international roles.

Andrea Leadsom, a Conservative leadership contender and a Brexit proponent was given the environment department.

Some of former prime minister David Cameron's Cabinet ministers kept their portfolios, including Defense Secretary Michael Fallon, but most ministries were shuffled, with new ministers including Justice Secretary Liz Truss and Education Secretary Justine Greening.

Wednesday, waves as she leaves after a cabinet meeting at number 10 Downing Street in central London, Britain on July 12, 2016. (Reuters)

Wednesday, waves as she leaves after a cabinet meeting at number 10 Downing Street in central London, Britain on July 12, 2016. (Reuters)

May appointed other Brexit supporters to major Cabinet posts, Wednesday, including former Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond as finance minister and Amber Rudd to May's old job of home secretary.

Hammond on Thursday said he would not submit an emergency budget in response to the Brexit decision, and would instead submit the budget in the fall, as is customary.

Hammond said during Brexit negotiations with the European Union he will push for British access to the European market for London’s financial services.

"It's not only in London's interest, it's in the interest of the European Union as well. London provides a crucial financial service," he said.

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