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Merkel welcomes Brexit progress but says devil is in detail

THE HAGUE (Reuters) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday welcomed progress in negotiations on a Brexit deal and said she wanted a close relationship with Britain after it leaves the European Union, especially on security matters.

“I hope there is progress, apparently there is progress, but sometimes the devil is in the detail – so everything is only worked out when it is all worked out,” she told a news conference after meeting Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

Earlier, EU negotiator Michel Barnier said a Brexit deal was “within reach” next week, even as he rammed home his insistence that Britain must accept possible checks on trade between its mainland and Northern Ireland.

Merkel said the negotiations were in a decisive phase and the sooner they were concluded the better.

“We agree that we want friendly relations with Britain, above all very, very close cooperation in the security policy area,” she said.

Rutte told the joint news conference: “It is important that Brexit happens as orderly as possible.”

(Reporting by Anthony Deutsch and Stephanie van den Berg in Amsterdam and Paul Carrel in Berlin; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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