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EU's Tusk tells UK's May: Start Brexit talks soon

LONDON — A European Union leader urged Britain on Thursday to hurry up and get on with finalizing its divorce from the bloc.

Donald Tusk, president of the EU's governing European Council, met with Prime Minister Theresa May in London for talks about the fallout from Britain's June 23 vote to leave the EU.

Before the meeting, Tusk told May that "the ball is now in your court" to start negotiations. He said the process should begin as soon as possible.

"I have no doubt that at the end of the day our common strategic goal is to establish the closest possible relations," he said.

May's spokeswoman, Helen Bower, denied that Tusk's comments put pressure on Britain. She said "there wasn't a sense in the meeting that we are under pressure on this."

May has signaled that she is in no rush to trigger the formal two-year round of exit talks with the other 27 members of the EU, amid divisions within her government about the kind of deal Britain hopes to strike.

Brexit Secretary David Davis said last week that it was "improbable" Britain could remain in the EU's single market in goods and services while imposing restrictions on immigration from EU countries. Free movement of people among member states is a core principle of the bloc.

May's spokeswoman later stressed that Davis was expressing his own opinion, not government policy.

May told lawmakers Wednesday that her government would "think through the issues in a sober and considered way."