Leader of tiny Malta sees tough EU exit talks for Britain

The leader of the country holding the European Union's presidency says EU nations should hold off on starting bilateral talks with London on future relations until Britain completes it departure from the bloc.

Britain has voted to become the first member to leave the EU, probably in 2019, and the government says it will officially trigger exit talks in late March.

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said Wednesday as his country takes over the EU presidency that "we want a fair deal for the U.K. but that fair deal needs to be inferior to membership."

Britain wants to begin trade and other talks with European partners but they are holding out, determined to defend their interests and the EU's future.

Muscat said Malta "will not engage in bilateral negotiations."