Merkel says Brexit talks progressing but 'still not at goal'
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday that Brexit talks with London were heading in a positive direction, but stressed that the two sides have yet to reach a deal.
Negotiations are "progressing but still not at the goal," Merkel told German MPs hours before a crunch summit in Brussels to secure an accord before the October 31st deadline for Britain to leave the EU.
She noted that the British government had "shown readiness to negotiate, including by putting very concrete proposals on the table".
But Merkel said she could not give a prognosis on how talks in Brussels starting later Thursday would end. The Chancellor will meet other heads of government in Brussels at 3pm.
Underlining the difficulty of securing a deal, she said that "finding a good solution is like squaring the circle".
But she added: "A regulated Brexit is in everyone's interest."
Merkel insisted that the remaining EU 27 member states would not allow a "hard border that could inflame hate and violence again" to return to the frontier separating Ireland and Northern Ireland.
During her speech in the Bundestag, Brexit was not the only topic on the agenda. Merkel also talked about several other issues including the future of the EU and Europe, Turkey, refugees and the challenges of climate change.
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It came a day after a meeting between Merkel and French President Macron where Brexit was also a hot topic.
Both leaders indicated progress in the Brexit talks between the EU and the UK, the day before they were set to meet British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the Brussels summit.
"I want to believe an agreement is being finalized and that we will be able to endorse it tomorrow," Macron said at a joint conference with Merkel in Toulouse.
Merkel said that the talks between the UK and the EU were "in the final stretch".
The UK and EU have made progress on negotiations to secure a Brexit deal, agreeing on nearly all major outstanding issues, according to EU negotiator Michel Barnier. But some complex issues remain unresolved.