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David Davis: 'Solid foundation' laid for Brexit talks

The major topics of discussion were Ireland and the rights of EU citizens in Britain.

David Davis: First day of Brexit talks .
David Davis: First day of Brexit talks .

The first day of Brexit talks has set a "solid foundation for future discussions", but there is still a long way to go, David Davis has said.

The Brexit Secretary gave a glimpse into the first day of talks, saying more time had been spent discussing Ireland than any other issue.

For his part, Michel Barnier, the EU's chief negotiator, promised a "constructive attitude" to the talks and saying that a "fair deal" was possible.

"For both the European Union and the United Kingdom, a fair deal is possible and far better than no deal. That is what I said to David today," he said, promising there would be "no hostility on my side".

The two men gave a joint press conference at the close of the first day of talks, held in Brussels and intended to identify priorities and a timetable for the negotiations.

The two men exchanged gifts ahead of Monday's talks
The two men exchanged gifts ahead of Monday's talks PA

Ireland, the only EU state to have a land border with the UK, appears to have taken up a good deal of time during today's talks.

Mr Bariner said that protection of Irish Good Friday Agreement and maintaining common travel area were the most important issues for Ireland.

On another pressing issue, the rights of EU citizens in the UK and British citizens living in Europe, Mr Davis said there was much common ground on the issue.

He said that he hoped to "deliver certainty" on the topic and that the government intended to publish details of its offer on Monday.

Mr Davis, looking slightly more windswept than his flinty European colleague after the day's talks, brushed off the idea Britain's negotiating stance could change given political instability in the UK, with Prime Minister Theresa May seeking support of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to prop up her minority government.

He told journalists there was no change to the government's position, that Britain was leaving the single market but seeking a trade deal and a customs agreement.

Earlier, before talks kicked off, the two men exchanged gifts - in a possible acknowledgement that the negotiations may at times be an uphill struggle, the presents were appropriately mountaineering themed.

Mr Davis gave Brussels' chief negotiator a rare book on mountaineering - a French-language version of Regards vers l'Annapurna, signed by Marcel Ichac, one of the two authors.

For his part Mr Barnier presented Mr Davis with a hiking stick.

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