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May to Visit Merkel and Hollande in First Foreign Trip as PM | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Britain’s Home Secretary Theresa May arrives to attend a cabinet meeting at Number 10 Downing Street in London, Britain March 1, 2016. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

British Prime Minister Theresa May will meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday in Berlin. They will discuss Britain’s strategy to leave the EU and the refugee crisis in Turkey, according to German government spokesman Steffen Seibert.

“Political developments in Turkey, the refugee question as well as the Brexit issue will be the focus of a joint discussion,” Seibert said in a statement.

May and Merkel are set to make a joint appearance in a news conference at the German chancellery and will then have a working dinner together, added Seibert.

“This will be an opportunity to discuss the bilateral relationship, cooperation on a range of global challenges, and of course how the UK and Germany can work together as the UK prepares to leave the EU,” a spokesperson for Downing Street said.

May will then head to Paris on Thursday for talks with President Francois Hollande at the Elysee Palace. According to French sources, discussions will revolve around three main topics: the “Brexit” issue, the importance of French-British relations and counter-terrorism cooperation following the attack in Nice last Thursday.

This will be former Home Secretary May’s first foreign visit since becoming Prime Minister last Wednesday (July 13) following David Cameron’s resignation after the “Brexit” vote last month.

Leading “Leave” campaigner Boris Johnson made his first trip to Brussels as the newly appointed British Foreign Minister on Monday for meetings with EU leaders.

Johnson said that despite the UK’s upcoming departure from the EU, the UK will still play a leading role in European affairs.

“We have to give effect to the will of the people and leave the European Union but that in no sense means we are leaving Europe. We are not going to be in any way abandoning our leading role in European participation and cooperation of all kinds,” said Johnson.

EU members have insisted that Britain must invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty – which formally begins the process of leaving the EU within a two-year countdown – as soon as possible. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said last month that the EU will not engage in formal negotiations with Britain regarding “Brexit” until it has been triggered.

Meanwhile, May is making her first trip to Wales as Prime Minister on Monday to meet First Minister Carwyn Jones. They are expected to discuss “Brexit”, concern about EU funding and the future of the Tata Steel plant in Port Talbot.

Last week, May visited Scotland, which overwhelming voted to remain in the EU, to meet First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. They discussed Scotland’s future relationship with the bloc and the possibility of another Scottish Independence Referendum in 2017 in a bid for the country to remain in the EU.