Theresa May is meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin Wednesday on her first international trip as Britain's Prime Minister, for talks that she hopes will help smooth Brexit negotiations.
Speaking at a press conference alongside May ahead of the working dinner between two of the world's most powerful women, Merkel said that Britain and Germany had friendly relations and shared values.
Bilateral relationships and trade between them would continue after Britain's departure from the European Union, she said.
But Merkel said that while the general issue of the impending Brexit would be broached, neither formal nor informal negotiations on the subject could begin until Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty - which officially kicks off the exit process and opens a two-year window for exit negotiations - was triggered.
Speaking after Merkel, May said that both sides wanted to maintain "the closest possible economic relations between our two countries, and I believe that is what German and British business want too."
She said the business of negotiating Britain's exit from the bloc would take time and "require serious and detailed work."
"I want to work with Chancellor Merkel and my colleagues around the European Council in a constructive spirit to make this a sensible and orderly departure," she said.
"All of us will need time to prepare for these negotiations and the United Kingdom will not invoke Article 50 until our objectives are clear. And that's why I've said already, this will not happen before the end of this year."
She said that she understood that the delayed triggering of the article "will not please everyone."
"But I think it is important to provide clarity on that now."
May will follow her Berlin trip with a visit to Paris for talks Thursday with French President Francois Hollande, where she is expected to convey a similar message about Article 50, according to a statement from 10 Downing Street.