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EU plans possible summit with Turkey in coming months - Tusk

Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen (L) walks with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (C) and European Council President Donald Tusk (R) prior to a meeting regarding Europol in Brussels, Belgium December 15, 2016. REUTERS/Virginia Mayo/Pool

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The heads of European Union institutions were given a mandate to plan a possible summit meeting with Turkish leaders in the coming months at an EU summit on Thursday, summit chair Donald Tusk told a news conference.

“We have a mandate to organise this kind of summit in the next months,” Tusk said, adding that no date had been set.

The EU would be represented by Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. Tusk stressed that Brussels still had much to discuss with President Tayyip Erdogan and his government, notably an agreement that has helped curb flows of migrants to Europe and changes to the Turkey-EU customs union.

Relations have become frosty since a failed military coup in July that has been followed by a crackdown on Erdogan’s critics. But EU leaders have said they need to maintain dialogue with a key neighbour. Diplomats have said that either a conclusion to negotiations to grant Turks visa-free travel to Europe, or moves to expand the customs union could be a reason for a summit.

Reporting by Alastair Macdonald; @macdonaldrtr