German ministers call for rapid Brexit talks, Lew stresses openness

Two top German ministers called on Thursday for a rapid round of negotiations to pave the way for Britain to leave the European Union now that Britain has set up its new government.

The faster there is a sense of clarity to Britain's plans for exiting the EU, the better the chances are that the potential risks will be contained, Schaeuble said after meeting with US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew in Berlin.

In his comments, Lew called for the talks to be conducted in "a smooth, pragmatic, and transparent manner", stressing that both sides needed to show flexibility in the negotiations "to produce an amicable and mutually acceptable outcome."

Echoing Schaeuble's remarks, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said that Wednesday's appointment of eurosceptic Boris Johnson as British foreign minister was a clear signal that British Prime Minister Theresa May would proceed with exiting the EU.

"We are also expecting that Theresa May will end the current phase of uncertainty as quickly as possible and formally apply to exit the EU," Steinmeier said in an interview in the weekly Bild am Sonntag, which was released to other media on Thursday, ahead of publication.

Last month's vote in Britain to leave the EU forms the focus of Lew's three-day visit to Europe, which takes him to Berlin, as well as London, Paris and Brussels.

Schaeuble and Lew also met ahead of next week's meeting in China of finance ministers from the Group of 20 leading industrial states and emerging economies, where Brexit will be high on the agenda.

"The negotiations should be launched in an orderly manner," said Schaeuble, adding that any fallout for Britain, the rest of Europe and the world economy should be kept to a minimum.

Lew said that Washington planned to continue developing the trans-Atlantic trade deal (TTIP) and to work closely with Britain.

The US Treasury chief is also planning to meet new British Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond in London. Schaeuble is to speak with Hammond by phone.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday she had invited the new British prime minister to Germany.

"I'm looking forward to working with Theresa May," Merkel said during a visit to Kyrgyzstan.

The chancellor had extended her invitation to May during a phone call with the premier late Wednesday shortly after the Conservative Party leader was appointed Britain's 76th prime minister.

However, like Lew and Schaeuble, Merkel declined to comment on the appointment of Boris Johnson, who helped to spearhead the Brexit vote, as Britain's new Foreign Secretary.

"It is our job to work very closely with the governments of allied countries," Merkel said.

"The world has enough problems, and we have to promote collaboration on foreign policy issues, as we have always done in our collaboration with Britain," she said.

May, who had favoured staying in the EU, was appointed Britain's new prime minister only three weeks after her country voted to leave the Brussels-based bloc.

Last update: Thu, 14/07/2016 - 18:17

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