Republic of Ireland news

Taoiseach tours European capitals to discuss Brexit challenge

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
By Aoife Moore, Press Association

The settlement the UK has agreed in principle over Brexit is made up of obligations and commitments it has already settled on, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.

He was speaking in Croatia as part of a tour of three European capitals to discuss Brexit and other issues relating to Britain leaving the EU next year.

The Taoiseach also said a hard border could not be contemplated.

"I think there is a real understanding from every member state that we need to avoid that, first of all through the withdrawal treaty, and then through the final relationship," RTÉ reported him saying.

Mr Varadkar visited Croatian capital Zagreb for meetings with president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic and prime minister Andrej Plenkovic.

The taoiseach will travel to Romania on Tuesday and will meet President Klaus Iohannis and Prime Minister Viorica Dancila.

On Wednesday, he will travel on to Italy where he will visit the Venice Biennale, before a meeting in Rome on Thursday with the new Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney said he was optimistic about negotiations.

"Nobody wants a no-deal Brexit, it would be catastrophic for Britain, but also very bad news for Ireland," he said.

"The responsibility is on all of us to find a way forward and I'm optimistic we will.

"We now have a clear white paper which is the negotiating position for the British government, and started intensifying negotiations – that's positive.

"We also have a prime minister that has repeated that we are not going to see physical border structure in Ireland.

"We want to reassure communities, especially in Northern Ireland, that we can manage our way through Britain leaving the EU, and protect the peace process."

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