European Union to present draft guidelines for UK's departure from bloc

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Tusk's strategy will now be sent out to the leaders of the 27 remaining European Union countries ahead of a special summit on April 29 when they will agree on them so that talks can start in May.

Joseph Muscat, the prime minister of Malta, which now holds the European Union presidency, said: "It will be a tough negotiation, but it will not be a war".

On Thursday, Mr Tusk issued a thinly veiled warning to the United Kingdom not to try and play divide-and-rule with the other 27 member states as talks begin.

Britain's Brexit Secretary David Davis, left, and Foreign Secretary Boris Jonhson listen to Prime Minister Theresa May as she speaks in the House of Commons in London in this image taken from video Wednesday March 29, 2017.

French President Francois Hollande followed German Chancellor Angela Merkel in snubbing May's proposed structure for the negotiations, saying the exit agreement should come first.

He jibed that there would be no extra punishment for Britain because "Brexit in itself is already punitive enough".

Britain formally triggered the Brexit process on Wednesday.

Minutes before the joint press conference, Tusk tweeted: "EU27 does not, will not pursue punitive approach".

Britain should not expect a "UK rebate" from the European Union in talks over its exit from the bloc, Germany's foreign minister said on Thursday (30 March), in reference to a budget discount won by then-PM Margaret Thatcher.

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said the guidelines showed "the strength of the EU in these negotiations and the carelessness of the UK Government in isolating themselves from our European allies".

China to US: Be 'cool-headed' on North Korea
Washington wants China, the North's neighbor and main trading partner, to use its influence to rein in the weapons program. He said he would work with China to "bring North Korea to a different place where we are hopeful we can begin a dialogue".

The Taoiseach will next week seek to build on European Union commitment to protect Ireland's interests in Brexit negotiations when he meets with German chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Thursday.

Friday, March 31 - Around 9 a.m. (0700 GMT) Tusk will send the 27 other states draft negotiating guidelines.

Britain sought to downplay a row over future security ties with the EU Thursday, as London and Brussels drew up the first battle lines at the start of their two-year divorce.

"We are thinking of moving to Australia", a 45-year-old Spanish nurse from Barcelona, who is married to a Spanish doctor, told AFP.

Labour MP Owen Smith said: "Two days into a two-year negotiation and the government's lofty rhetoric is colliding with hard reality".

'It would be to the detriment of us all if unnecessary barriers to trade were erected, ' she said.

"We must deal with many rights and obligations that have been linked to membership".

But in its draft negotiating guidelines for the upcoming withdrawal talks, the Council did not rule out trade talks beginning within the two-year period leading up to Brexit.

The European Council President's nine-page document states that there must be "sufficient progress" on withdrawal talks - including a "divorce bill" potentially running as high as £50bn - before negotiations on future relations begin.

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