Britain's Johnson says no need for gloom about Trump victory

BELGRADE (Reuters) - British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, setting aside his previous hostility toward Donald Trump, said on Thursday the U.S. Republican’s presidential election victory offered economic opportunities and there was no need for Europeans to be despondent about it.

“I may respectfully say to my European friends and colleagues that it’s time we snapped out of general doom and gloom about this election,” Johnson said after meeting Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic.

“He is after all a deal maker. He wants to do a free trade deal with the UK,” Johnson told reporters.

Trump’s upset victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton has delighted far-right politicians in France, the Netherlands and Austria but worried some mainstream politicians who fear it may be part of a populist, anti-establishment trend.

“I believe that this is a great opportunity for us in the UK to build on that relationship with America that is of fundamental economic importance for us but also of great importance for stability and prosperity in the world,” Johnson said.

Johnson was one of the leading proponents of the successful Brexit campaign to get Britain out of the European Union. Trump aligned himself with the Brexit movement during his campaign.

On Wednesday, Johnson, the former London mayor, congratulated Trump on his victory and tweeted that he looked forward to continuing the partnership between the two nations.

Johnson said last year that he feared going to New York because of “the real risk of meeting Donald Trump” after the New York businessman said parts of London were now so radicalized that police officers feared to go there.

Later on Thursday, Johnson said on his Twitter account he had spoken to U.S. Vice President-elect Mike Pence.

“We agreed on importance of the special relationship & need to tackle global challenges together,” he tweeted.

Additional reporting by Eric Walsh in Washington; Reporting by Ivana Sekularac; Editing by Mark Trevelyan and Peter Cooney