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Germany and Netherlands dismiss Britain's plea for swift trade talks

Staff Writer | October 20, 2017
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte have dismissed a plea by UK Prime Minister Theresa May to move talks over the terms of Britain's departure from the bloc on to trade.
Mark Rutte
Europe   A two-day EU summit in Brussels
May had hoped to sway her 27 counterparts over dinner late Thursday at a two-day EU summit in Brussels.

Preliminary talks have focused on citizens' rights, a financial settlement and the Irish border. But EU negotiators say they need more progress on those before talks on a future relationship, including trade, can begin.

While Merkel acknowledged that Britain had sent "clear signals" during Brexit talks, which she described as moving ahead "step-by-step," she also stressed that trade was to remain off limits until at least December.

Merkel said Theresa May's dinner address had not changed her mind but added that she was committed to maintaining the "good spirit" of the negotiations.

Her view was echoed by Rutte who said that May had made "no new proposals", over dinner.

Earlier in the day Rutte had called on May to put "more meat on the bones" of a financial settlement.

"I called her [May] and said: Listen, we need more clarity, specifically about the bill," Rutte told reporters.