- Title: UK's May says all options must be considered to end Aleppo attacks
- Date: 21st October 2016
- Summary: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM (OCTOBER 21, 2016) (REUTERS) MAY AT NEWS CONFERENCE CAMERAMAN AND JOURNALISTS AT NEWS CONFERENCE
- Embargoed: 5th November 2016 14:06
- Keywords: May Brexit referendum EU trade Syria Russia
- Location: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM
- City: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM
- Country: Belgium
- Topics: European Union,Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA00754Y7S5J
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Friday (October 21) the European Union must consider all options to put pressure on Russia and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to stop attacks on the Syrian city of Aleppo.
Speaking at a news conference after her first European Union summit since taking office, May said she had argued for a robust and united message on Syria.
"I argued, along with (German) Chancellor (Angela) Merkel, (French) President (Francois) Hollande and others for a robust and united message, calling on the Syrian regime and Russia to stop their attacks on Aleppo, and making clear that the EU will consider all options if the atrocities continue and that is what we have agreed," she said.
May also made clear that she wanted London and the European Union to maintain close cooperation after Britain leaves the bloc.
"The UK is leaving the EU but we are not leaving Europe and we are not turning our backs on our friends and our allies. While we have not yet formally started the exit negotiations, here at this summit I've been clear that my aim is to cement Britain as a close partner of the EU once we have left. Yes, the United Kingdom will be a fully independent, sovereign country, free to make our own decisions on a whole host of different issues, such as how we choose to control immigration. But we still want to trade freely in goods and services with Europe and the UK will continue to face similar challenges to our European neighbours," May said.
She added she hoped that some of the most complicated talks London has ever undertaken will be held in a constructive manner.
"I recognise the scale of the challenge ahead, I am sure there will be difficult moments. It will require some give and take, but I firmly believe that if we approach this in a constructive spirit, as I am, then we can deliver a smooth departure and build a powerful new relationship that works both for the UK and for the countries of the EU, looking for opportunities, not problems," May said.
Having earlier provoked concern among investors, businesses and in EU capitals that she was heading for a "hard Brexit", or clear break with the single market, to control immigration, May moved to ease concerns. She said she wanted the best trade deal possible.
The former interior minister also reiterated that she wanted a bespoke deal for Britain as it leaves the European Union.
"From the UK's point of view, we are not looking to replicate a model that somebody else has, that another country has. We are not looking to adopt another model that somebody else has in relation to their trade with the European Union. What we want is to develop what is a new relationship for the UK for the EU, to be there once when we are outside of the EU. What we want is to ensure that we have the right deal for the United Kingdom and I think I'm optimistic about that. Obviously we've got negotiations ahead of ourselves, those negotiations will take time - as I say, there will be some difficult moments, it will need some give and take, but I am optimistic that we can achieve the deal that is right for the UK because I actually think the deal that is right for the UK will also be right for the European Union," May told reporters.
Envisioned as a single territory without any internal borders or regulatory obstacles to the free movement of goods and services, the EU single market accounts for 500 million consumers and 21 million small and medium-sized companies.
After sterling fell on fears that Britain was heading for a "hard Brexit", May, and some of her more eurosceptic ministers, have worked hard to reassure business and EU leaders that her policies will not hurt the economy.
Asked about the message he intended to deliver to May over lunch with her at the Commission, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker remained quiet.
"Are you the British Prime Minister?" he asked the reporter in return.
Once May gives formal notice that Britain is leaving - by March she says - the Council will meet at 27, minus May, to set negotiating guidelines for the Commission. Tusk will be arbiter of what deal Britain is offered, but the Council has less than a tenth of the Commission's 33,000 staff to work on the details.
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