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Irish foreign minister says Brexit border breakthrough possible today

Irish foreign minister says Brexit border breakthrough possible todayā€¯

An agreement that would commit Britain to maintaining "regulatory alignment" between Northern Ireland and Ireland after Brexit would make it easier to avoid a hard border but limit the UK's ability to change its economic regulations to strike new trade deals across the world.

A meeting on this with all political party leaders is set for lunchtime today.

But critics say that it would effectively move the customs border between the United Kingdom and the Republic into the Irish Sea, if the rest of the United Kingdom was not in the single market.

Key divisions remain on the issues of the Irish border and the rights of European Union citizens living in the UK.

Mrs May hopes to achieve a breakthrough during her visit to Brussels to meet Mr Juncker and European Union chief negotiator Michel Barnier on Monday.

British Prime Minister Theresa May went to Brussels for a long negotiating lunch with EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

The border issue remained the main sticking point.

"It was not possible to reach complete agreement today", he said. "But at this stage it is very hard to make a prediction", said an official.

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May and Juncker made no comment to reporters when they met at the European Union executive's Berlaymont headquarters for a lunch that diplomats and officials hope can seal a breakthrough that would open the way to negotiations on future trade relations.

"Crucially it is clear that we want to move forward together, but on a couple of issues, differences do remain, which require further negotiation and consultation", said May before heading to meet President of the European Council Donald Tusk nearly one-hour late than scheduled.

The EU and the United Kingdom are nearing agreement on some divorce terms, including the size of the bill that Britain must pay as it leaves and the rights of citizens affected by Brexit.

If she had ignored their concerns, there's little doubt that the party's 10 MPs would have sat on their hands and not supported the Conservatives in important votes on the EU Withdrawal Bill this week.

He added: "The indications we have is that we are in a much better place now than we have been in the negotiations to date".

"We will not accept any form of regulatory divergence which separates Northern Ireland economically or politically from the rest of the U.K.", DUP leader Arlene Foster said. But she said talks would reconvene later this week "and I am also confident we will conclude this positively".

Varadkar said he would speak in public shortly.



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