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John Kerry urges leaders to keep a cool head

By Gavin Gordon

Published 28/06/2016

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond (left) with US Secretary of State John Kerry after their meeting yesterday
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond (left) with US Secretary of State John Kerry after their meeting yesterday

US secretary of state John Kerry has urged Europe's leaders to avoid anger and retribution as they negotiate the terms of Britain's withdrawal from the EU.

He said any willingness to "cut off your nose to spite your face" would have repercussions that extended beyond the continent.

Mr Kerry flew into London from Brussels for talks with Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond in a demonstration of continued support for the "special relationship" with the UK.

At a joint news conference at the Foreign Office, he urged leaders on both sides of the Channel to make "wise choices" as they negotiated new relationships.

"Leaders have the ability and the responsibility to restore certainty by making wise choices in the days ahead," he said.

"That means choices that to every degree possible are not aimed at retribution, not aimed in anger, but rather thought through in a way that brings people together. If there is a willingness to cut off your nose to spite your face, I have a sneaking suspicion that is going to be felt far and wide and I don't that's good for anybody."

Mr Hammond said that while he hoped the negotiations would be "amicable", he understood why many in the bloc were so unhappy at the outcome of the referendum.

"The wound is quite raw," he said. "We are only 96 hours in and it will take time for the wound to settle down. Something is stirring politically. We have seen it in various countries across Europe in the form of surges of support for Right-wing parties and we have seen it here in this referendum. It is something we will have to deal with."

He also stressed that there was still a "great shared economic interest" in working together and that failure to cooperate would leave both sides worse off.

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