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Top EU Officials Sign Brexit Deal      01/24 06:42

   The leaders of two of the European Union's main institutions on Friday 
signed the divorce agreement governing Britain's departure from the bloc next 
week, sealing the penultimate step in Brexit at a ceremony held without media 
access.

   BRUSSELS (AP) -- The leaders of two of the European Union's main 
institutions on Friday signed the divorce agreement governing Britain's 
departure from the bloc next week, sealing the penultimate step in Brexit at a 
ceremony held without media access.

   European Council President Charles Michel tweeted photos of the overnight 
signing with the president of the EU's powerful executive commission, Ursula 
von der Leyen, in the presence of their Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier.

   Both institutions rejected repeated media demands for access to what is a 
small but legally significant step marking the first time a member state has 
ever left the world's biggest trading bloc. Time stamps on the official photos 
show that the ceremony took place at around 2 a.m. local time (0100 GMT).

   "Charles Michel and I have just signed the Agreement on the Withdrawal of 
the UK from the EU, opening the way for its ratification by the European 
Parliament," Von der Leyen tweeted about six hours after the signing.

   "Things will inevitably change but our friendship will remain. We start a 
new chapter as partners and allies," Michel tweeted in reference to ties with 
Britain, also hours after the signing ceremony, adding: "I can't wait to write 
this new page together."

   Britain's delayed and disputed Brexit bill became law in the country on 
Thursday, removing the last U.K. obstacle for it to leave on Jan. 31, more than 
3 1/2 years after voters narrowly opted to do so in a June 2016 referendum.

   The EU Parliament is expected to ratify the Brexit divorce deal next 
Wednesday just days before the deadline. It appears a formality after the 
assembly's influential constitutional affairs committee voted in favor by a 
large margin on Thursday. 


(KR)

 
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