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EU leaders 'green-light' internal preparations for Brexit trade talks

[BRUSSELS] EU leaders gave the go-ahead Friday to start internal preparations for Brexit trade talks, even though negotiations on divorce issues have made insufficient progress, the bloc's president Donald Tusk said.

"Brexit conclusions adopted. Leaders green-light internal EU27 preparations for 2nd phase," Mr Tusk wrote on Twitter as EU leaders met without British Prime Minister Theresa May to discuss the topic at a summit in Brussels.

EU leaders have said that there has not been enough movement on key divorce issues - Britain's exit bill, the rights of EU citizens in Britain, and the Northern Ireland border - to unlock the next phase of negotiations until at least December.

In the conclusions from their meeting on Friday, the leaders said that if there is sufficient progress in December they will "adopt additional guidelines in relation to the framework for the future relationship and on possible transitional arrangements" for EU negotiator Michel Barnier to follow.

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"Against this background, the European Council invites (EU ministers)... together with the Union negotiator to start internal preparatory discussions," the conclusions say.