Update: Britain's Davis And EU's Barnier Begin Brexit Negotiations

BRUSSELS (Alliance News) - The two top negotiators from Britain and the EU started the first ...

Alliance News 19 June, 2017 | 1:14PM
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BRUSSELS (Alliance News) - The two top negotiators from Britain and the EU started the first round of negotiations over the terms of Britain's exit from the bloc on Monday.

Britain, a member of the EU since 1973, is the first country ever to leave the bloc following a referendum last year.

Negotiators from the two sides agreed to go ahead with the negotiation start date of June 19 even as Prime Minister Theresa May grappled with the fallout from a snap election that cost her party its parliamentary majority.

Despite the downgrade to a minority government and questions about how long May and her cabinet are likely to remain in power, the British premier and other senior officials stressed last week that the Britain's post-election plans for negotiations had not changed.

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said outlining negotiation priorities and a timetable were on the agenda of Monday's meeting.

"We must first tackle the uncertainties caused by Brexit, first for citizens, but also for the beneficiaries of EU policies and for the intact borders particularly in Ireland," Barnier said.

Britain's Secretary of State David Davis said he was hoping to build "a new, deep and special relationship with the EU."

"There is more that unites us, than divides us," Davis added.

The negotiation programme includes a working lunch and a closing session between the two top negotiators and meetings between their deputies.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who campaigned for Britain to leave the EU, said he expected "a happy resolution" to result from the talks.

"The whole process will lead to a happy resolution - I think it can be done with profit and with honour for both sides," Johnson said Monday on the sidelines of an EU foreign ministerial meeting in Luxembourg.

"I think the most important thing now is for us to look to the horizon, to raise our eyes to the horizon, think about the future, think about the new partnership - the deep and special partnership - that we want to build with our friends."

By Naveena Kottoor

Copyright dpa

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