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EU says Trump agrees that Brexit 'an incident, not a threat'

U.S. President Donald Trump (R) walks with the President of the European Council Donald Tusk in Brussels, Belgium, May 25, 2017. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

TAORMINA, Italy (Reuters) - European Council President Donald Tusk said on Friday he was “positively surprised” by Donald Trump’s support for the EU as it manages Britain’s departure, adding the U.S. president had agreed Brexit was just “an incident and not a threat”.

After meeting Trump on Thursday in Brussels, Tusk told a news conference: “It was clear for both of us that the EU at 27 is more united after Brexit than before Brexit.”

“I tried to convince him, and I deeply believe this, that Brexit is very important and dramatic, but it is just an incident and not a threat. And President Trump agreed. It was for me a very positive moment in our discussions.”

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Brexit was only mentioned in passing at the meeting, describing Brexit as “a real tragedy”.

“I described why we don’t want other member states to leave the European Union and I don’t know any member state that has the intention to leave.”

Trump irritated EU leaders during his election campaign last year by hailing Brexit and suggesting other countries might follow Britain out of the 28-nation bloc. However, EU officials believe he has, since taking office, come to a greater appreciation of the value of European integration to U.S. interests.

On Thursday, an EU source said Trump had said he was worried Americans may lose jobs as a result of Britain leaving the EU.

Reporting by John Irish, writing by Elizabeth Piper; editing by John Stonestreet