German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. President Barack Obama agreed on Thursday the European Union (EU) and the United States must maintain their efforts to reach a common trade agreement.
It was important that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations would be maintained, said Obama at a joint press conference with Merkel after their meeting at the chancellery in Berlin.
Merkel emphasized that she had always spoken out for a trade agreement between the EU and the United States, two major trading areas of the world.
The negotiations had made a lot progress, but they could not be "ended now", said Merkel.
"I continue believing that the EU is one of the greatest achievements in the world," said the outgoing U.S. President, while calling on the countries of Europe to strive to maintain the 28-nation bloc.
People have to cultivate these achievements and fight for them, said Obama, adding that Britain's exit from the EU should be conducted as "smoothly and orderly and transparently" as possible.
Meanwhile, Obama warned his successor, president-elect Donald Trump, of the important principled task in relation to Russia.
"I've sought a constructive relationship with Russia," said Obama, "My hope is that the president-elect coming in takes a similarly constructive approach, finding areas where we can cooperate with Russia where our values and interest align."
The U.S. president also said he hoped that Trump would not simply take a realpolitik approach in cutting deals and doing "whatever's convenient at the time."
Merkel thanked Obama for the "excellent cooperation" and praised him as a reliable partner in difficult times.
She expressed her gratitude for a close, trusting and friendly cooperation over the eight-year term he served.
The Chancellor said she would "do everything possible to work well with the newly-elected president."
Obama also thanked Merkel for Germany's contribution to the fight against the Islamic State (IS) and to the Syrian conflict.
In an interview with German broadcaster ARD and German weekly news magazine Der Spiegel, Obama had previously warned of growing political tensions in industrialized countries.
"If the global economy does not react to people who feel left behind when inequality continues to grow, we will see the split in the industrialized countries expand," Obama was quoted as saying.
Obama and Merkel will meet with French President Francois Hollande, British Prime Minister Theresa May, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on Friday in Berlin to exchange views on the future of the Ukraine crisis, the future approach towards Russia, the civil war in Syria and the fight against IS.