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Germany says EU may still pursue treaty

BEIJING (Reuters) - Germany said on Saturday that the European Union may still be able to go ahead with the integration process without Ireland, following the Irish “No” vote to the EU’s Lisbon reform treaty.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, on a visit to China, told reporters that EU foreign ministers would discuss the outcome of Ireland’s referendum together with Dublin.

“(The question is whether) Ireland for a certain time can clear the way for an integration of the remaining 26 (member countries),” he said, adding that it was not an easy legal issue.

In a statement on Friday, Germany called Ireland’s rejection of the EU reform treaty in a referendum a “hard blow” but urged other member states to continue with ratification and said the treaty should still come into force.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and other EU leaders have said the referendum process of the treaty must continue despite Ireland’s “No” vote.

Reporting by Kerstin Gehmlich, Writing by Sophie Taylor; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani