Brexit talks to focus first on orderly exit

The EU's Michel Barnier said he hoped the talks - starting nearly a year to the day after a British referendum vote to leave the EU - would establish a timetable for the negotiations.

Britain appears to have given in on the EU's insistence that talks first focus on three key divorce issues, before moving onto the future EU-UK relationship and a possible trade deal.

In this June 19, 2017 photo, Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May speaks to the media outside 10 Downing Street in London. "David Davis and I, as chief European Union negotiator, will discuss the issues together, tackle difficulties, and lift obstacles", he added. Johnson was in a separate meeting with European Union foreign ministers.

A general election wiped out May's parliamentary majority earlier this month and her position has been weakened further in the wake of a deadly fire in a London apartment building.

"If you ask me are we going to make concessions, I must tell you that it is the United Kingdom that is leaving the EU, the single market, the customs union and not the other way around", the former European commissioner and French foreign minister told a joint press conference with Davis.

It wasted vital weeks that could have been spent preparing for today's talks - weeks that the European commission spent settling on and setting out their Brexit priorities with stark clarity.

Brexit Secretary David Davis, seen as Mr Johnson's main potential rival for the job, last week described leadership gossip centred on the Foreign Secretary as "unbelievably self-indulgent".

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Officials charged with negotiating the first departure of a country from the European Union were in Brussels on Monday to kick off the most consequential series of talks for the United Kingdom since the end of World War II. He wanted parallel discussion, covering both the future trade deal and the terms of Britain's departure - including a demand for an exit payment of as much as 100 billion euros ($112 billion). European Union officials have long insisted on covering the topics in sequence. The UK wants trade deal talks to run at the same time.

A former special forces reservist, Davis is expected to be a tough negotiator in Brussels. The letter assumes great importance as the formal negotiations for Britain's exit from the European Union are beginning today. Her Conservative Party's comfortable majority in the lower house of the British Parliament evaporated following a lackluster campaign.

Britain's shaggy-haired foreign minister is a Latin-quoting maverick and former journalist who once compared the European Union to Adolf Hitler in trying, "by different methods", to create another super-state.

But who are the officials that will be working to define Britain's Brexit deal? The prime minister is still trying to secure the support of a fringe party whose votes she needs to form a government. She will then publish a detailed outline of her offer on Monday, Davis said.

A mountain man from France's southeast, he made a name for himself as co-president of the 1992 Albertville Winter Olympics.

"As a UK Government we remain absolutely steadfast in our commitment to the Belfast Agreement, its successor agreements".

The smiles belied the fact that at stake is not just Britain's future but also Europe's postwar political order and its place in the world, which could be fatally undermined without an agreement by the March 2019 deadline.

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