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LONDON – Australia's leader has expressed confidence in Britain's plans to forge global trade deals once it leaves the European Union, saying Monday that his country will jump at the chance to strike a free trade deal with the U.K.
After talks with British counterpart Theresa May, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Australia stands ready "to enter into a free trade agreement with the United Kingdom as soon as the U.K. is free to do so."
Australia and the EU agreed in November 2015 to work toward launching negotiations for a free trade agreement.
Turnbull said he was confident an agreement with Britain could be accomplished quickly once the U.K. leaves the bloc in 2019.
"Australians are fleet of foot," Turnbull said after meeting May for talks at 10 Downing St. "We don't muck around."
Turnbull backed May's assertion —questioned by her opponents in Britain — that Britain will be able to prosper after Brexit by striking new free trade deals around the world.
He said Brexit would bring "big horizons, big opportunities" for Britain.
May and Turnbull — who have known each other since their 1970s student days at Oxford University — also visited London's Borough Market, site of an attack last month that killed eight people, two of them Australians.
The two leaders met police officers and paramedics who responded to the June 3 attack. Three attackers in a van ran down pedestrians on London Bridge, then stabbed people in the nearby market before being shot dead by police.
May and Turnbull also spoke to business owners in the food market, which is surrounded by restaurants, bars and cafes.
Turnbull said he was moved to meet two of the police officers who responded to the attack.
"The three of us did our best not to burst into tears," he said.