- Title: EU leaders gather for discussions on Russia sanctions, Brexit, and CETA
- Date: 20th October 2016
- Summary: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM (OCTOBER 20, 2016) (REUTERS) EUROPEAN UNION FLAGS OUTSIDE EU COUNCIL BUILDING WHERE EU LEADERS ARE HOLDING SUMMIT TALKS POLICEMAN HANGING INFO BANNERS OUTSIDE COUNCIL EU FLAGS AND EUROPEAN COUNCIL BANNER INSIDE COUNCIL BUILDING'S ATRIUM
- Embargoed: 4th November 2016 14:39
- Keywords: EU summit Tusk Merkel Brexit Russia Syria CETA
- Location: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM
- City: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM
- Country: Belgium
- Topics: European Union
- Reuters ID: LVA00154T9CG7
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Russia to stop bombing Aleppo on Thursday (October 20) as they arrived for a summit of EU leaders in Brussels.
The 28 heads of state and government will discuss sanctions on Russia, after an air campaign by the country against Western rebels in the devastated eastern part of Aleppo.
"I hope that as the European Council we are able to firm up our view that what is happening with Russian support in Aleppo is completely inhuman with regards to the inhabitants of Aleppo. That is why there has to be work on a truce and not just one of a few hours followed by several hours of bombing but a permanent truce. (This is) especially to get humanitarian aid to people," Merkel told reporters.
Russia, which supports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has told the United Nations it will stop bombing eastern Aleppo for 11 hours a day for four days, but that is not enough to trigger a wider ceasefire deal under which militants would leave the Syrian warzone, the U.N. said on Thursday.
France's Hollande said all options were open if Russia failed to observe a ceasefire in Syria, but European Council President Donald Tusk, who chairs the two-day summit, said no decisions would be taken on Russia at the meeting.
"Today is not about decisions, but I want to underline that the EU should keep all options open including sanctions if the crimes continue," he said.
The summit is the first of British Prime Minister Theresa May since she was appointed premier following Britain's June 23 vote to exit the bloc.
May, who replaced David Cameron in July after Britons shocked the EU by voting to leave the bloc, was due to spell out her vision for Brexit at a dinner with her 27 counterparts on Thursday evening.
But Tusk said leaders will not discuss future negotiations with Britain at the summit, as leaders wait for the country to trigger Article 50 which would set in motion its departure from the bloc.
May has suggested she is leaning to a so-called "hard Brexit" in which Britain would place limits on immigration and lose access to Europe's lucrative single market.
"I say firmly: if Mrs. Theresa May wants a hard Brexit, the negotiations will be very tough," France's Hollande said.
EU leaders will also discuss a planned EU-Canada free trade agreement which was rejected by a Belgian regional parliament and requires unanimous support from the bloc's 28 member states to be implemented.
Almost all 28 EU governments now back the deal, which would be the bloc's first trade accord with a G7 country, and it is scheduled to be signed at an EU-Canada summit attended by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on October 27.
But Belgium's Prime Minister Charles Michel cannot approve CETA without support from assemblies representing the country's three regions and three linguistic communities, and the Walloon government voted on October 14 to reject the agreement.
Michel said he was hoping for clarity 'in the coming hours or days' from the Walloons after final proposals were sent to them by the European Commission.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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