British, Irish prime ministers discuss EU trade negotiations

FILE PHOTO: Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Ireland's Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Micheal Martin are seen ahead of a meeting at Hillsborough Castle, in Belfast, Northern Ireland August 13, 2020. Brian Lawless/Pool via Reuters

(Reuters) - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke with Irish Taoiseach Micheal Martin on Friday evening and discussed progress in UK-EU trade negotiations, the UK government said, at a time when differences remained with the EU on a Brexit trade deal.

On the call, Johnson stressed his commitment to reach a deal that respects the sovereignty of the country, the government said in a statement here.

The leaders also reaffirmed the need to prioritise the 1998 Good Friday peace deal and avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland. The deal effectively ended Northern Ireland’s 30 years of sectarian violence and created institutions for cross-border cooperation on the island of Ireland.

On Wednesday, the Ireland prime minister had said that there was still time for a “good result” in trade talks.

The leaders also discussed their respective efforts to tackle the coronavirus pandemic and measures taken ahead of Christmas.

Reporting by Anirudh Saligrama and Maria Ponnezhath in Bengaluru; Editing by Tom Brown and Cynthia Osterman