President Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May pledged full cooperation on trade and other issues Friday, easing tensions following Trump’s explosive interview in which he criticized her handling of 'Brexit' and called into question a U.S.-U.K. trade deal.
In a joint press conference outside London, the two leaders touted the relationship between their countries and a commitment to work together on issues of national security, terrorism, border security and trade.
Despite his interview with The Sun, Trump said he supported whatever decision May comes to regarding Brexit, Britain's departure from the European Union.
“Once the Brexit process is concluded—and perhaps the U.K. has left the EU, I don’t know, whatever you’re going to do is okay with us,” Trump said. “Just make sure we can trade together. That’s all that matters.”
Both leaders said their countries would work out a trade deal.
“We will do a trade deal with them and with others around the world,” May said. She said she and Trump came up with an “ambitious deal that works for both countries,” that would build on the U.K.’s independent trade policy.
Trump thanked May for “pursuing fair and reciprocal trade” with the U.S.
Trump also sought to ease tensions over his interview comments, saying he “didn’t criticize the prime minister” and suggesting the article left out the “tremendous things” he said about May. He said his aides have a tape of that interview, suggesting it could be released.
Standing next to May, he called her an "incredible woman" and "tough negotiator" who is doing a "fantastic job."
Trump later called their relationship "the highest level of special" and added, "I would much rather have her as my friend than as my enemy, that I can tell you."
He instead reserved his most pointed criticism for Germany's Angela Merkel, continuing to hammer her over a natural-gas pipeline deal with Russia.
“I think it’s a horrible thing that Germany’s doing,” he said.
The press conference comes after Trump's bombshell interview with The Sun, in which Trump doubled down on criticism of May’s approach to handling Britain’s departure from the European Union.
In that interview, Trump said that May’s new, softer approach to Brexit—which would leave Britain sticking to a “common rulebook” with Brussels on goods—would kill off the chances of a highly sought U.S.-U.K. trade deal.
Trump did praise May in the interview, but also suggested the prime minister did not take his advice on Brexit, which he said was “fine.”
“I would have done it much differently. I actually told Theresa May how to do it but she didn’t agree, she didn’t listen to me,” Trump said, noting that negotiations had gone on “too long.”
Trump’s comments delivered a blow for May who is already fighting for her political life after announcing her plan on Brexit to her cabinet last week. That announcement sparked several high-level resignations—including Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Brexit Secretary David Davis.
Trump also praised Johnson and called him his “friend.”
“I am not pitting one against the other,” Trump said of Johnson and May. “I am just saying that he [Johnson] would be a great Prime Minister. I think he’s got what it takes.”
The interview led to numerous awkward questions for May at the Friday press conference, but she seemed to brush off the comments, at least publicly.
The White House quickly sent out a statement in the wake of the interview, playing up ties between May and Trump.
"The President likes and respects Prime Minister May very much. As he said in his interview with the Sun she 'is a very good person' and he 'never said anything bad about her,'" White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said. “He thought she was great on NATO today and is a really terrific person. He is thankful for the wonderful welcome from the Prime Minister here in the U.K.”
The two leaders also discussed a mutual commitment to stopping nuclear proliferation, in North Korea and Iran, and terrorism.
Fox News' Adam Shaw contributed to this report.