Britain committed to European foreign policy, security: Johnson

September 2, 2016 8:55 AM EDT

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson gives his remarks during a stake-out at United Nations headquarters in New York U.S., July 22, 2016. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz


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BRATISLAVA (Reuters) - Britain is committed to European foreign and security cooperation even though it is preparing to leave the European Union, its foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, said on Friday as he arrived for talks with other EU ministers.

Johnson, a former mayor of London and a colorful politician with a long record of gaffes and scandals, was a high-profile "Leave" campaigner in Britain's June referendum which resulted in a vote to quit the EU bloc.

As Britain and the other 27 EU states gear up for painful divorce talks, Johnson reiterated that Britain "may be leaving the European Union but we are not leaving Europe."

"The British government, under Theresa May, is absolutely committed to participation in European foreign policy cooperation and European defense and security co-operation," he said.

EU's foreign ministers are meeting in Bratislava to discuss the bloc's strained ties with Turkey, and the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, where the so-called Minsk peace accord for the east of the country has stalled.

"The events in Ukraine are still very worrying, and it's important I think that we continue to keep pressure up on Russia and we see progress based on the Minsk Agreement," Johnson said.

"There can be no relaxation of that pressure until such time as we see the Minsk Agreement being advanced," he said in referring to EU's sanctions on Russia over Ukraine.

(Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Richard Balmforth)



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