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EU Leaders Want Brexit Talks Sped Up   10/20 05:50

   European Union leaders are weighing progress in negotiations on Britain's 
departure from their club as they look for new ways to speed up the complex, 
painfully slow moving process.

   BRUSSELS (AP) -- European Union leaders weighed on Friday the meager 
progress in Brexit negotiations as they searched for new ways to speed up the 
highly complex talks some 18 months before Britain is due to leave.

   British Prime Minister Theresa May urged her 27 EU partners to bring new 
momentum to the talks, even as an interim goal was missed to widen the talks 
from the more immediate divorce issues to future EU-U.K. relations and trade 
arrangements after Britain leaves on March 29, 2019.

   "The clear and urgent imperative must be that the dynamic you create enables 
us to move forward together," May told her counterparts overnight, according to 
a statement from her Downing Street office.

   Despite the sense of urgency from both sides, and calls to accelerate the 
negotiations, they remain bogged down on preliminary issues. Those include the 
exact sum of Britain's divorce bill -- which the EU estimates at 60-100 billion 
euros ($70-120 billion), compared with a possible 20 billion euro offer from 
London -- the rights of citizens affected by Brexit, and the status of the 
Northern Ireland-Ireland border.

   To break the deadlock, May's 27 EU partners are set to agree Friday to begin 
discussing among themselves what their joint position should be on future 
relations and trade so they can be ready if "sufficient progress" is made on 
the preliminary issues by the time EU leaders hold their next formal summit in 

   Several officials also say that changes to the format of the negotiations 
could be considered. At the moment, Brexit negotiators meet roughly every three 
weeks for four days, bringing the media spotlight on the process and raising 
expectations about what can be achieved. The idea would be to do away with 
rounds and hold talks on a rolling basis.

   Reflecting those concerns, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, said 
that "we all -- not only the U.K. but us also, (must) go for real negotiations 
and not just negotiating in the media by rhetoric."

   She said that May's address late Thursday appeared to be made up of extracts 
from a previous speech and said that it is now time to move "from words to real 

   Maltese Prime Minster Joseph Muscat was more upbeat. He praised May's 
address as her "best performance yet."

   "It conveyed a warm, candid and sincere view that she wants progress to be 
made, that she has proved her position," Muscat said, as May entered EU 
headquarters behind him early Friday without speaking to reporters.


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