WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration will pursue a free-trade agreement with Britain as soon as possible after it leaves the European Union, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday as the country's new foreign secretary made his first official visit to the United States.
Pompeo also thanked the government of new British Prime Minister Boris Johnson for agreeing to join a U.S.-led maritime security initiative in the Persian Gulf.
Speaking at a news conference with visiting British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, Pompeo said the Trump administration remains committed to respecting whatever Britain's final decision on Brexit is and is eager to conclude a trade deal.
"We support the United Kingdom's sovereign choice, however Brexit ultimately shakes out and we'll be on the doorstep, pen in hand, ready to sign a new free trade agreement at the earliest possible time," Pompeo said.
Raab said Johnson and his Cabinet are "absolutely resolved, determined" to leave the EU at the end of October with or without a deal to soften its effects.
He said he hoped to conclude a new trade deal with the U.S. "as soon as possible after we leave the EU on Oct. 31."
Pompeo lauded Britain for signing onto the U.S.-led maritime security mission to protect international shipping in the Strait of Hormuz. The secretary of state said Britain's decision to participate "is a victory for meaningful, effective multilateralism."
The British Defense Ministry announced Monday that Royal Navy vessels will work alongside the U.S. Navy to escort vessels through the busy strait, which has become a flashpoint for tensions between Iran and the West. The U.S. has been asking its allies to take part in a naval mission to protect shipping in the strait, though other European nations have expressed reservations.
Britain has been giving U.K.-flagged vessels a naval escort since Iran's Revolutionary Guard seized a British oil tanker last month.