The Latest: Merkel says her 30-days remark not a deadline

International News

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson attend a joint press conference, in Berlin, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019. German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she plans to discuss with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson how Britain’s exit from the European Union can be “as frictionless as possible.” (Bernd Von Jutrczenka/dpa via AP)

PARIS (AP) — The Latest on British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s effort to reopen Brexit talks on European trip (all times local):

3:30 p.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says a suggestion she made that a solution to the Brexit dispute be solved in 30 days shouldn’t be interpreted as a strict deadline.

Merkel told reporters during a visit to the Netherlands that “it would be better to say one can achieve that by Oct. 31.”

The German chancellor said her remark during a news conference Wednesday with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was merely “an allegory for being able to do it in a short period of time.”

Some commentators in Britain had interpreted her comment as a deadline to Johnson, who wants to take Britain out of the European Union by the end of October — whether a solution to the Irish border issue is agreed or not.

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1:30 p.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron says the Irish backstop is “indispensable” in a Brexit deal.

Welcoming British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to the courtyard of his Elysee Palace Thursday with a big smile and little pats on the back, Macron remained firm on his position that renegotiating the deal for Britain to leave the European Union is not an option.

“We have to respect what was negotiated,” he said.

“My position is very clear. I know it’s in your thoughts day and night,” he joked.

Macron said that details could be negotiated within the next 30 days but only within the framework of the existing deal because of the need to preserve stability in Ireland and the integrity of the EU single market.

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11 a.m.

A group of U.S. legislators has written Prime Minister Boris Johnson, warning him that any trade deal with the United States is “highly unlikely” if the historic Good Friday accord is weakened.

The Congressional Friends of Ireland, a group in the U.S. Congress which promotes peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland, wrote the letter to express its concern about British efforts to leave the European Union potentially resulting in a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

The letter notes that America is guarantor of the deal and says “any weakening of the Good Friday Agreement or threat to the 310-mile (500-kilometer) seamless border would make the prospect of a future US-UK trade deal highly unlikely.”

The letter warns that the peace process is “still fragile and needs to be nurtured.”

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10 a.m.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to find little support for his drive to reopen Brexit negotiations when he meets with French President Emmanuel Macron on the second stop of his European tour.

Johnson was buoyed Wednesday by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who raised the possibility that a negotiated departure from the European Union may still be possible if Britain comes up with alternative plans for the Irish border within 30 days.

But Macron has already dampened expectations for meetings later Thursday, saying renegotiating the Brexit deal is “not an option.” Johnson is seeking concessions to win support in Parliament where he has a one-seat majority.

Macron said: “We must help the British deal with this internal democratic crisis but we mustn’t be hostage to it nor export it.”

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