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EU leaders meet in Brussels for summit on security, Brexit and trade

EU LEADERS MEET IN BRUSSELS FOR SUMMIT ON SECURITY, BREXIT AND TRADE

European Union leaders are meeting in Brussels to debate on security, Brexit and trade issues.

European Union leaders are meeting in Brussels on Thursday and Friday to discuss a broad range of issues from defence and security, to Brexit, trade, climate and migration.

Below please find comments by the leaders arriving for talks.

BREXIT

EUROPEAN COUNCIL PRESIDENT DONALD TUSK

"The Brexit negotiations started 3 days ago. It is a most difficult process, for which the EU is well prepared."

"Some of my British friends have even asked me whether Brexit could be reversed, and whether I could imagine an outcome where the UK stays part of the EU. I told them that in fact the European Union was built on dreams that seemed impossible to achieve. So, who knows? You may say I'm a dreamer, but I am not the only one."

BRITISH PRIME MINISTER THERESA MAY

"We propose to protect the rights of EU citizens and UK citizens as we leave the European Union."

GERMAN CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL

"I want to state clearly that the shaping of the future of the 27 has priority over the negotiations with Britain over its exit. We will conduct these talks in a good spirit. But the clear focus has to be on the future of the 27."

LITHUANIA PRESIDENT DALIA GRYBAUKSAITE

"We will deal with anybody who will come from Britain because for us Britain stays a friend and an ally and we will negotiate with Britain as with a friend and an ally."

"It's a pity that this decision was made but we cannot turn and look only backwards. We need to think about the future and the sooner we settle the future, the better for both."

"For us it's important to respect the rights, including social rights, of our citizens in Britain, the same as we would like to reciprocally guarantee for British citizens in the European Union, the same rights they have today." "For us the cut-off date is not so important, we would like to have no discrimination neither before nor after the cut-off date."

"We would like to have a different situation, but it's the right of Britain to decide on how much they will be involved and use the European judiciary."

BELGIAN PRIME MINISTER CHARLES MICHEL

"It's time for action and certainty. Not for dreams and uncertainty."

DUTCH PRIME MINISTER MARK RUTTE

"It is crucially important now that we know what Great Britain wants from Brexit. I hope obviously that we will come to some form of continued membership or relation with the internal market, with the customs union."

"I think it's in the interest of jobs in the United Kingdom. I am absolutely convinced United Kingdom will be hit, it's economy, the position of the pound, very hard."

"It will have a huge economic impact. I think if there is a continued link to the internal market, to the customs union in one form or another - including accepting that it also means courts in Luxembourg, the four freedoms - if we could come to something like that, I am hopeful."

"But it all depends of course on what Theresa May and her team will decide."

"My dream would be that in this Brexit process we would come to this end state, or maybe an intermediate end-state for the coming years, in which the United Kingdom will stay connected to the internal market."

"I hate Brexit from every angle. But this is a sovereign decision by the British people and I can't argue with democracy."

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