Merkel sends positive Brexit signal to May

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has offered one of her most positive assessments of Brexit talks in months, saying she believed negotiations between the EU and Britain were moving forward and dismissing the prospect of a breakdown.

Merkel made her comments after the first day of a European Union summit at which British Prime Minister Theresa May appealed to her fellow leaders to help her silence critics at home and break a deadlock in the talks.

"In contrast to how it is portrayed in the British press, my impression is that these talks are moving forward step by step," Merkel told reporters, dismissing suggestions from some in Britain that the talks should be broken off as "absurd".

"I have absolutely no doubts that if we are all focused ... that we can get a good result. From my side there are no indications at all that we won't succeed," she said.

Earlier, in remarks delivered at the end of a dinner of butternut gnocchi and pheasant supreme, May sought to calm fears that Britain would use its departure in March 2019 to undercut the bloc's economy by lowering standards and taxes.

She asked EU leaders to respond in kind to her efforts to break the Brexit stalemate, making clear she was disappointed at their plan to announce on Friday that talks have not yet made enough progress to move on to a discussion of future trade ties.

The EU is seeking a clearer commitment from Britain that it will settle financial obligations linked to its exit. Leaders will on Friday set a target of December for London to improve its divorce settlement offer.

But they will also make a gesture by launching internal preparations for the next phase of the negotiations.

In choreography that contrasted with images of May standing isolated in Brussels at previous summits, Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron were filmed by television cameras engaging the British prime minister in an animated conversation at the start of the summit.

Source: SBS

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