France's Hollande tells May talks on future EU-UK relations must wait

The outgoing French president said negotiations must be held in a "clear & constructive manner, so as to lift uncertainties & to respect the rules & interests of the European Union.

FILE: French President Francois Hollande. Picture: AFP

LONDON - French President Francois Hollande told British Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday that Brexit negotiations must first deal with how Britain will leave the bloc before talks could be held on Britain's future relations with the EU, his office said.

The outgoing French president told May in a telephone call that the negotiations must be held in a "clear and constructive manner, so as to lift uncertainties and to fully respect the rules and interests of the 27-member European Union."

"The President indicated that the talks must at first be about the terms of withdrawal, dealing especially with citizens' rights and obligations resulting from the commitments made by the United Kingdom," a statement from Hollande's Elysee office said.

"On the basis of the progress made, we could open discussions on the framework of future relations between the United Kingdom and the European Union," it said.