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Britain and EU agree to hold further Brexit talks


BRUSSELS: European Union leader Jean-Claude Juncker and Prime Minister Theresa May agreed on Thursday to hold additional talks on Britain's withdrawal from the bloc, after what they described as a "robust" meeting.

EU negotiator Michel Barnier will meet Britain's Brexit minister Stephen Barclay on Monday in Strasbourg and May and Juncker themselves gets back together prior to the end of February, a spokesman said.

In a joint statement issued after May met Juncker at EU headquarters in Brussels, the pair showed that the European Commission president had warned the British premier that the Brexit withdrawal deal cannot be renegotiated.

But he "expressed his openness to add wording" to a parallel political declaration laying out ambitions for long term EU-UK ties if London desires to hunt a "more ambitious" closer courting after Brexit.

May, on the other hand, suggested that the withdrawal agreement itself be modified, and reminded Juncker that the British parliament had mandated her to hunt "a legally binding change to the terms of the backstop."


This is a clause within the withdrawal agreement, signed ultimate November, that would stay Britain within the EU customs union even after a post-Brexit transition duration if no approach is located to stay the Irish border open.


"The discussion was robust but constructive," the joint statement said.


"Despite the challenges, the two leaders agreed that their teams should hold talks as to whether a way through can be found that would gain the broadest possible support in the UK Parliament and respect the guidelines agreed by the European Council."


If no agreement is reached at the withdrawal deal, which has yet to be approved by either the British or EU parliaments, Britain will crash out of the union with no follow-on business preparations on March 29.


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