US urges EU and Britain to pursue Brexit talks quickly

Washington (AFP) –


US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tuesday that Washington will not interfere in Britain's negotiations to leave the European Union but urged both sides to resolve the matter quickly.

"The United States will maintain our longstanding special relationship with the United Kingdom, but at the same time we will maintain a strong relationship with the EU regardless of the outcome of Brexit," he said.

"We will not attempt to influence the negotiations but we urge the EU and UK to move this process forward swiftly and without unnecessary acrimony," he said.

In a referendum last year, Britain -- traditionally the United States' closest ally in Europe -- voted to leave the EU bloc and time is running out for its leaders to agree terms with Brussels on an exit deal.

Prime Minister Theresa May has been given until December 4 to demonstrate sufficient progress on talks about the bill Britain will pay on leaving the union, or she could lose an opening to discuss an new trade arrangement.

The EU insists that Britain must tie up three thorny divorce issues -- a multibillion-euro exit bill, the Irish border and the rights of EU nationals living in Britain -- before there can be any talks on future relations.

EU leaders have been hopeful that May would bring new proposals on Ireland and on the exit bill, after senior British ministers agreed earlier this week to double the offer to a reported 40 billion euros ($48 billion).