Obama on Brexit: The UK has spoken, and 'we respect their decision'

Wall Street opens sharply lower after Brexit vote

President Barack Obama reacted Friday morning to the UK's historic Brexit vote, saying in a statement that he respected the people's choice to leave the European Union.

"The people of the United Kingdom have spoken, and we respect their decision," Obama said.

He continued: "The special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom is enduring, and the United Kingdom's membership in NATO remains a vital cornerstone of US foreign, security, and economic policy."

See social media reactions to Dow Jones plunge:

Social Reactions to the Dow plummeting after Brexit
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Social Reactions to the Dow plummeting after Brexit
In two hours the UK economy has lost $350 BILLION. That’s equivalent to 40 years of EU contributions.
Our first task has to be to make sure that the economic uncertainty created by these events does not hurt working families. #BrexitVote
RIP our economy. Thanks you Brits #dowjones #Britain #UK
the #dowjones crashing over #EU is ok with #DumpTrump because he loves debt, and chaos to make a profit #DonTheCon #NeverTrump
2.4% loss in 19 minutes. #DowJones
The single vote that will trigger a global recession #dowjones #AfterBrexit https://t.co/bCgnOcWRks
Think of today when someone tells you we need to privatize social security and tie it to investments. #DowJones #stockmarketcrash
#Brexit With the #dowjones going crazy, wonder if the airlines have dropped their prices to fly to London 😳
Recession not a concern, stagnation is #BrexitVote says Alan Greenspan @CNBC

The president sought to reassure the EU that the US would continue to have a strong relationship with it.

"So too is our relationship with the European Union, which has done so much to promote stability, stimulate economic growth, and foster the spread of democratic values and ideals across the continent and beyond," he said.

Obama added: "The United Kingdom and the European Union will remain indispensable partners of the United States even as they begin negotiating their ongoing relationship to ensure continued stability, security, and prosperity for Europe, Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the world."

Obama was an opponent of the so-called Brexit, saying in April he wanted the UK to remain a part of the EU. At the time, he warned the UK could fall "to the back of queue" when negotiating trade deals with the US if it decided to abandon the political-economic union.

The UK shocked the world on Thursday when it voted to abandon the EU. Markets plunged into chaos and British Prime Minister David Cameron announced he would resign his post.

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