In his first interview with foreign media, President-elect Donald Trump said he planned to offer a "fair" trade deal to Britain "within weeks" of his inauguration.
In a joint interview published Sunday in The Times of London and Germany's Bild, Trump said that he planned to make Britain's departure from the European Union "a great thing" and that he would meet with British Prime Minister Theresa May shortly after he is sworn in Friday.
"We're gonna work very hard to get it done quickly and done properly," he told the papers, adding: "I love the UK."
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The comments come as Britain wrestles with an uncertain future under Brexit, the referendum under which it voted to leave the European Union.
Since the vote June 23, the country has seen its currency plummet and its AAA credit rating wiped out. It also faces the prospect of tariffs and trade restrictions from the EU, The Times reported — a possibility that made Trump's comments that much more significant, because a possible trade deal with the United States could be a powerful negotiating tool.
In the interview, Trump attributed Brexit to an influx of refugees, saying: "If they [EU countries] hadn't been forced to take in all of the refugees, so many, with all the problems that it .. . entails, I think that you wouldn't have a Brexit," he said. "I think people want ... their own identity, so if you ask me ... I believe others will leave."
Trump also reiterated a plan to lift sanctions on Russia, although he added a new detail: He would do so in exchange for a reduction in the country's nuclear arsenal.
"They have sanctions on Russia — let's see if we can make some good deals with Russia," he said. "For one thing, I think nuclear weapons should be way down and reduced very substantially."
The comments came about two weeks after the United States expelled 35 diplomats and closed two Russian compounds in retaliation for Russia's interferience in the presidential election.
And they came less than a week after the publication of an unverified report that claimed that Trump campaign officials coordinated that interference with Russia and that Russian operatives collected comprising information on Trump.
Trump has called the report "phony" and "fake news," and on Sunday, Vice President-elect Mike Pence told CBS News that the allegations of coordination were "bizarre rumors."
Trump also said in the interview that he had "great respect" for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, although he added that "she made one very catastrophic mistake, and that was taking all of these illegals," referring to Germany's acceptance of Syrian refugees fleeing the war in their homeland.