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Boris Johnson UK will not give up its 'leading role' in Europe despite Brexit





The UK's exit from the EU does not mean it will be leaving Europe or "abandoning" its friends, the new foreign secretary has said in Brussels.

Making his debut on the international stage, Boris Johnson said the EU needed a "co-ordinated response" to terrorism in the light of the recent Nice attack.

He also said he wanted to "see restraint and moderation on all sides" in Turkey following the attempted coup.

Mr Johnson is meeting fellow EU foreign ministers for talks.

Foreign ministers will discuss the Nice attack and the abortive coup in Turkey, but have stressed there will be no formal discussions about Britain's EU exit.

"We are not going to be in any way abandoning our leading role in European cooperation and participation of all kinds," Johnson said before the start of an EU foreign ministers' meeting. He said last week's attack in Nice, France showed the need for European countries to coordinate their response to terrorism, and that he would support an EU call for "restraint and moderation" in Turkey following the failed military putsch there.





Mr Johnson's journey to the talks - which will also be attended by US secretary of state John Kerry - was delayed after his plane had to make an emergency landing.




It meant the newly-appointed cabinet member was late for an informal dinner with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on Sunday evening.

James Robbins, the BBC's diplomatic correspondent, said that although Brexit was not on the agenda "Mr Johnson's fellow ministers are bound to be sizing up their nemesis".

"Today's meetings are bound to be odd, when the man who compared the EU's ambitions to create a super-state to those of Adolf Hitler, sits down with the 27 other ministers," he added.



Despite Johnson's anti-EU stance, Federica Mogherini, the bloc's foreign policy chief, told reporters that "our common work on foreign and security policy continues and today we will welcome him as a new member of the family."


Johnson and Mogherini met privately in Brussels on Sunday evening and "had a good exchange on the main issues on the agenda today," the EU official said.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, who has said Johnson "lied a lot" to turn British public opinion against the EU, said Monday he would speak him with complete frankness. Ayrault also called for a quick start to formal talks on Britain's exit from the 28-nation bloc.

Johnson, a former London mayor and Brussels-based journalist, was appointed foreign secretary by new Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday. The plane that was supposed to bring him on his first official trip to Brussels Sunday had to make an unscheduled landing because of a "technical issue," the British Foreign Office said.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph , during the referendum campaign, Johnson said the EU was trying to build a super-state, recreating the Roman Empire.


The EU foreign affairs chief said Johnson would be welcomed “as a new member of the family”.

But Mogherini stressed negotiations could not start on Brexit details until London formally triggered withdrawal under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.

“There are no negotiations before the notification of Article 50 is tabled. Until that negotiation comes to an end, the UK is a full member of the EU so our common work on foreign and security policy continues,” she said.

He said he had a "frank but useful conversation" over the weekend with Mr Johnson, and that he would speak to him at Monday's meeting "with the biggest sincerity and frankness".

"We want to avoid Europe falling into uncertainty. The sooner the UK start their negotiations with the rest of the EU, the better," he said.

Mr Ayrault also said France continued to have a good working relationship with Britain.

"France and the UK still have an important bilateral relation, especially on matters of defence and migration, such as the Touquet agreement for Calais," he added.

The meeting comes after new Brexit Secretary David Davis said EU migrants who come to the UK as a departure date nears may not be given the right to stay.

He said there might have to be a cut-off point if there were a "surge" in new arrivals but any steps must be compatible with EU law.

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