UK PM expresses 'desirability' for trade deal with EU ahead of summit

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street to attend Prime Minister's Questions at the House of Commons, in London, Britain, on Sept. 16, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressed the "desirability" of a new trade deal with the European Union (EU), but also his disappointment that more progress had not been made, just hours ahead of an EU summit due on Thursday.

Johnson's comments came during a phone call with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel on Wednesday evening, Downing Street said in a statement.

The leaders discussed the latest state of play of the negotiations on Britain's future relationship with the EU. Johnson "noted the desirability of a deal, but expressed his disappointment that more progress had not been made over the past two weeks," the statement said.

"The Prime Minister said that he looked forward to hearing the outcome of the European Council and would reflect before setting out the UK's next steps in the light of his statement of 7 September," it said.

Johnson said last month that a future trade deal needs to be agreed by mid-October to enable it to be approved ahead of Jan. 1, 2021. While Michel Barnier, EU's chief Brexit negotiator, said the deal needs to be ready by the end of October.

Both sides started the lengthy and bumpy post-Brexit talks in March after Britain ended its EU membership on Jan. 31, trying to secure a future trade deal before the Brexit transition period expires at the end of the year. If there is no deal in place, Britain will trade with the EU on terms of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2021.

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