Newstalk
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14.48 20 Mar 2018


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Updated: 19.10

The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he had a "great meeting" with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.

The two leaders talked about Brexit, the Irish border and an upcoming European Union Council meeting.

Mr Varadkar travelled to the German capital for the meeting following his St Patrick's Day visits to the United States.

Discussions also focused on trade, the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) and digital taxation - as well as their approach to the future of the European Union.

Germany is Ireland's second largest source of inward investment, third largest source of tourists, fourth largest overall trading partner and fifth largest food export market.

Mrs Merkel was formally re-elected to her position of chancellor for the fourth time last week by the Bundestag.

This followed lengthy coalition negotiations after federal elections there last September.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Varadkar said: "I think we're seeing steady progress on the Brexit negotiations, but more needs to be done in the coming weeks and months to close the remaining gaps between the EU and the UK.

"And on this, I thank the Chancellor and the German government for their ongoing and resolute support.

"For our part, we'll continue to support the EU negotiator Michel Barnier in his critical work - and we should all remember that we're proceeding on the basis that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed - and will be working closely with partners to make sure that this is faithfully respected".

The meeting came a day after the EU and the UK agreed that the backstop for the Irish border, agreed in December, must be made legally operative in the withdrawal agreement, to apply unless and until an alternative solution is agreed.

Mr Varadkar and his counterparts will decide on Friday if enough progress has been made to move on to the issue of the future relationship in the Brexit negotiations.


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