Coveney says border talks at 'sensitive place'

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has said discussions with the British government on border issues are in a "sensitive place right now".

He said progress was made on Thursday on the issue of theborder between Ireland and the UK and that continued into the weekend - writes

He added that there is discussion on a text, which has been looked at by the EU and Irish Government negotiating teams, but on "which we don't yet have agreement on".

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr Coveney said: "We are not quite yet where we need to be".

A special meeting of the Cabinet will review discussions with the British government this morning.

Mr Coveney said: "Hopefully we'll find a way forward today".

A Government spokesman indicated last night that while progress has been made, a deal is not yet in place.

Sources in Brussels this morning confirmed this assessment.

Minister for European Affairs Helen McEntee said it is impossible for talks to move to the second phase of negotiations without a concrete agreement to avoid a hard border.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4, she said some progress had been made over the weekend.

"I do believe we are nearing closer progress . . .we are not there yet and that is why we are meeting as a Cabinet this morning to look at where we are," she said.

"If there is not enough that has been given to us in written format, it is up to the UK government to produce that.

"I would hope, and I think we all want to hope, that we can move on to phase two as quickly as possible and particularly in time for the December council on the 14th of December."

British Prime MinisterTheresa Maywill travel to Brussels todayseeking EU support to move on to the next phase of negotiations, including wider trade issues.

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She is due to meet European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker andEuropean Council President Donald Tusk, who has said if Britain does not come forward with an improved offer on withdrawal terms, he will be unable to recommend EU leadersgive the green light for the second phase of negotiations to begin at their summit on 14-15 December.

He has also made it clear they cannot move on to phase two unless the UK can satisfy the Irish Government that there will be no return to a hard border.

Meanwhile, aformer Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has said it is vital to move on to trade talks, and if that does not happen, the UK should move on to "World Trade Organisation terms".

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Conservative Party MP Owen Paterson said "the overwhelming sense of it is,get on with it".

Mr Paterson said the issue of the border is solvable on both sides.

He said the best deal is reciprocal free trade and no tariffs.

Elsewhere, Manfred Weber, the chairman of the European People's Party - largest group in the European Parliament - has tweeted that the EPPwill not recommend that sufficient progress has beenmade to move to the second phase of Brexit talks, unless a "clear commitment is made" by Britain on theprotection of EU citizens' rights and on theborder issue.

Read also more news of Dublin on our site.

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