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'Still time' for Brexit solution, says Merkel

'Still time' for Brexit solution, says Merkel

Angela Merkel has told business leaders there’s "still time" for a deal to be reached on Britain’s exit from the EU. But the deadline is looming over UK PM Theresa May, who is in Belfast seeking support her Brexit deal.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has voiced optimism that a poitical solution could still be found for the UK’s exit from the EU. She spoke with business leaders in Tokyo on Tuesday, telling them that despite the March 29 deadline and Brussels rejecting any renegotiation of the existing agreement, there was still time for Britain to reach some kind of arrangement with the bloc.

"From a political point of view, there is still time," Merkel said. "But for this it would be very important to know what exactly the British side envisages in terms of its relationship with the EU."

The Chancellor has urged "goodwill" and "creativity" in finding a Brexit solution and said that despite the tricky issue of the Irish backstop, "it should be humanly possible to find a solution to such a precise problem."

Merkel made the comments at an economic forum in Tokyo, one of several stops on her two-day visit to Japan

May in Belfast

Meanwhile, UK Prime Minister Theresa May has on Tuesday begun a two-day visit of her own to Belfast, in a bid to seek support for her withdrawal deal.

She will meet Arlene Foster, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which props her minority government and which opposes the current backstop agreement.

Foster on Tuesday morning repeated her party’s stance. "Parliament’s mandate is to replace the backstop. The current backstop… is so toxic to those of us living in Northern Ireland," she said.

"If the backstop is dealt with in the Withdrawal Agreement… we will support the prime minister. I don’t want to see a no-deal scenario."

Other parties in Northern Ireland take a very different tack on this issue to the DUP, the only major party at the Stormont parliament which campaigned for Brexit. Northern Ireland also voted narrowly in favor of remaining in the EU in 2016's referendum.

nn/msh (Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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