Brexit secretary David Davis kicks off European Union exit talks in Brussels

Protection of the benefits of free trade agreements now extended to the United Kingdom through its European Union membership.

"Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed", he said, using a line also expressed by the EU.

Acknowledging the hard talks ahead, British Secretary for Brexit David Davis, said the talks would be held in a constructive and positive atmosphere, and would deliver a deal "that works in the best interests of all citizens".

They agreed on Monday that talks until October should focus on citizens rights, a financial settlement and other separation issues, with a separate dialogue on Northern Ireland.

The talks are set to kick off at 11 a.m. (0900 GMT) in Brussels with a meeting between Davis and the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier.

The most senior officials on either side will lead work on efforts to resolve the problem of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, a situation Mr Barnier acknowledged was "politically sensitive" at a time when the Tory government was seeking the support of the Democratic Unionist Party to prop up Mrs May's minority government.

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Mr Lighthizer said: " As the United States' fifth largest export market, the United Kingdom is an invaluable trading partner. The pair met briefly in November, but will have plenty of time to develop a personal chemistry over the coming months.

The first day of official talks will begin at 1000 BST and continue until early evening, with a joint press conference at 1530 BST.

The other European Union countries have a united position, but the British are "in chaos", Weber added.

Her said: "No deal would be a very, very bad outcome for Britain, but there is a possible worse outcome and that is a deal that is deliberately structured to suck the lifeblood out of our economy over a period of time".

Davis was heartened by the spirit of the talks, during which the negotiators, both interested in mountaineering, exchanged a walking stick and a hiking book.

The Mechanical Engineering Industry Association, known by its German initials VDMA, says that that goal of the two-year negotiating process is "damage limitation" because Brexit won't benefit either side.

"A fair deal is possible, and far better than no deal ..."

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But she now faces growing opposition at home to this, and her threats to walk away without a deal, in the wake of this month's general election in which she lost her centre-right Conservative party's parliamentary majority.

Britain, he said, would seek to leave both the single market and the customs union and forge a separate trading agreement.

While Davis has conceded on trade and divorce bill talks being carried out in parallel from the start, the issue of Ireland's border with the United Kingdom is playing out how he predicted.

"The UK is leaving the European Union, not the contrary". Davis said she will tell them about plans to guarantee rights for some 3 million European Union citizens in Britain under a proposal to be made next week.

European stocks rose yesterday, partly on optimism about the talks getting under way after months of uncertainty, analysts said.

Barnier quoted Jean Monnet, one of the European Union founding fathers: "I'm neither optimistic nor pessimistic, I am determinate".

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"The pessimist see difficulty in every opportunity, the optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty".

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