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The European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker says there is no reason to wait until David Cameron is replaced in October to begin negotiating Britain's exit from the European Union.|
Speaking to Germany's ARD television station, Mr Juncker added that he wants to start negotiating the UK's reformed relationship with Europe 'immediately'.
'Britons decided (on Thursday) that they want to leave the European Union, so it doesn't make any sense to wait until October to try to negotiate the terms of their departure,' he said.
'I would like to get started immediately.'
Mr Juncker said the separation was 'not an amicable divorce', adding that 'it was not exactly a tight love affair anyway'.
The British prime minister, who announced his resignation in an emotional speech in Downing Street, has said he will leave it to his successor to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.
The article begins the two-year process of negotiating a new trade relationship with the UK's former partners.
But Mr Juncker and other EU chiefs have urged Britain to start negotiations to quit the bloc 'as soon as possible'.
'Any delay would unnecessarily prolong uncertainty,' Mr Juncker said in a joint statement issued with EU President Donald Tusk, EU Parliament leader Martin Schulz and Dutch premier Mark Rutte.
'We now expect the United Kingdom government to give effect to this decision of the British people as soon as possible, however painful that process may be.
'We stand ready to launch negotiations swiftly with the United Kingdom regarding the terms and conditions of its withdrawal from the European Union.'
German officials have responded to the shock 'out' result, saying the 27 countries left in the European Union should refrain from taking revenge, but focus on building consensus in areas such as security, migration and economic growth.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told the ZDF television station there was hard work ahead negotiating the terms of Britain's exit, but European leaders were committed to charting a new course that tackled high rates of youth unemployment and other issues raised through the UK referendum.
Steinmeier said he told EU foreign ministers at a meeting in Luxembourg on Friday to focus on rebuilding a strong Europe, not hashing through differences with Britain.
'We have to accept the decision that was made, and not go looking for revenge,' said Steinmeier, who will meet the foreign minister of France, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg - the six founding EU members - in Berlin on Saturday.
Manfred Weber, who represents German Chancellor Angela Merkel's political party in the European parliament, said it was imperative to start negotiations with Britain soon about its departure, to ensure stability and avoid uncertainties.
'We want to negotiate a new relationship, not a nasty divorce,' Weber told the Muencher Merkur newspaper. 'My goal would be to wrap up the exit negotiations within about a year.'
German officials are worried France, the Netherlands, Austria, Finland and Hungary could also seek to leave the EU after Britain's vote, German newspaper Die Welt said on Friday, citing a finance ministry strategy paper.
Steinmeier said political parties in some EU member states would likely push for similar popular votes, but he knew of no specific country that was seriously considering leaving the bloc.