Brexit: Theresa May wants early deal on Britons in EU
Theresa May wants an early deal on what Brexit means for the status of Britons in Europe and EU citizens in the UK, she has told EU leaders.
The British prime minister's comments came as she updated fellow leaders on the UK's plans for leaving the European Union. There has been concern in other countries about the status of their nationals in the UK after Brexit.
Meanwhile, EU leaders said negotiations over the UK's exit would be approached in "a spirit of trust and unity".
Mrs May attended a European Council summit meeting in Brussels on Thursday, but then left without answering any questions on the UK's break with the EU.
However, Irish PM Enda Kenny revealed what Mrs May had told them, saying: "She would like to have the question of UK citizens living in Europe and European citizens living in the UK dealt with in the early part of discussions that take place." Mr Kenny also said the Irish Republic would not sign a bilateral deal with the UK and the UK had to agree its future relationship with the EU first.
After Mrs May's departure, the 27 other EU leaders met informally for 20 minutes to discuss their approach to Brexit negotiations. They agreed that European Commission official Michel Barnier will lead talks for the EU - although MEPs are said to want a greater say.
European Council president Donald Tusk said the "short, informal meeting" had "reconfirmed our principles, meaning the indivisibility of the four freedoms, the balance of rights and obligations and the rule 'no negotiations without notification'."
European Parliament president Martin Schulz has warned that negotiations could be vetoed if MEPs are not fully involved.
Downing Street has played down suggestions that a Brexit trade deal could take 10 years to complete, after Britain's ambassador to the EU, Sir Ivan Rogers, suggested that others in Europe believed this could be the case.
Downing Street indicated that it would be possible to complete a "divorce deal" and a new trade agreement with the EU within the timetabled two years of the UK invoking Article 50 - the formal start of the process of leaving.
Meanwhile, reports suggest that Britain could face a £50bn bill to leave the EU, including payments to cover pension liabilities for EU staff.
Downing Street said the UK would meet its obligations while in the EU, but any financial settlement after that would be a matter for negotiation.
'APPALLING SITUATION IN SYRIA’
At the summit, the leaders discussed controlling mass migration into Europe, the EU's relationship with Ukraine, co-operation with NATO and economic matters.
Mrs May said they had also discussed "the appalling situation in Syria".
"We heard from the mayor of eastern Aleppo, he had one plea for us - to allow the safe evacuation of the people in the city," she said.
"President Assad and his backers - Russia and Iran - bear responsibility for the tragedy in Aleppo, they must now allow the United Nations to ensure the safe evacuation of the civilians who are left there."
She announced that the UK is to provide £20m of further aid for the most vulnerable in Aleppo.
International Development Secretary Priti Patel said: "People must also be allowed to leave the city safely without risk to life or limb or gross violations of their human rights, and in accordance with international law.
"It is paramount that aid agencies now get the unfettered, secure access they need to save lives inside east Aleppo."