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U.S. President Donald Trump speaks as he holds a joint news conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May (not pictured) at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 27, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

(reuters_tickers)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday that he would defer to Defense Secretary James Mattis regarding the use of waterboarding as an intelligence-gathering tool, even though Trump said he still believes the practice works.

Trump said Mattis does not "necessarily believe" in waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques, which many lawmakers and other rights groups denounce as torture.

"I don't necessarily agree, but I would tell you that he will override because I'm giving him that power," Trump said of Mattis during a joint press conference at the White House with visiting British Prime Minister Theresa May.

"I happen to feel that it does work. I've been open about that for a long period of time. But I am going with our leaders," Trump said.

(Reporting by Emily Stephenson; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

Reuters