The Latest: Japanese PM say an open Europe is crucial

BRUSSELS (AP) — The latest on the European Union summit dealing with the Brexit negotiations (all times local)

1:10 p.m.

Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe, who met his British counterpart Friday, says he will "continue to trust" the U.K.'s economy after its separation from the European Union.

Abe added that maintaining an open Europe is "a matter of concern to the world." He said he expected that investors from outside the EU will be able to have "clear future prospects" following Brexit.

Abe made the statements Saturday in London after a meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May.

May hailed Japan as Britain's closest Asian security partner and an important economically, noting that 1,000 Japanese companies including Honda, Hitachi and Mitsubishi employ 14,000 people in Britain.


12:15 p.m.

French President Francois Hollande says French voters have a choice to make about the future of Europe when they cast their ballots in the second round of the presidential election next weekend.

Speaking in Brussels, Hollande said the May 7 vote will show "whether the French people should fear an exit from the European Union. They have everything to win by staying in the European Union."

Hollande told reporters at a European Union summit Saturday that "it's a risk" should France follow Britain out of the 28-nation bloc if far-right leader Marine Le Pen becomes president.

He said: "We can see with the Brexit affair, there is no more protection, no more guarantees, no more internal market. For a country that is a member of the eurozone, there is no more single currency."


11.45 a.m.

Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel says he thinks British Prime Minister Theresa May called a snap election was to be able to push for a more personalized exit from the European Union — "Theresa's Brexit."

Bettel said that "before you had the soft Brexit and the hard Brexit, and in future maybe you will have Theresa's Brexit, so maybe that is the reason she organized the elections."

Bettel says what's at stake for May in the June 8 elections is the fact that "she needs a strong mandate for the negotiations."

Bettel adds: "For the moment, we are in suspense."


11:30 a.m.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte says that as soon as there is sufficient trust between the EU nations and Britain on core issues like citizen's rights, the divorce bill and the Irish border, both sides can proceed to discuss future relations.

Rutte, who stressed the importance of Britain to the Dutch economy, says that "as you get to a certain level, as far as possible, and say now we are confident about this, then we have to swiftly start talking about the future relationships — trade and also politics."

Rutte says it "is in the Dutch interest to have good agreements on the divorce proceedings but also about future relations."

Rutte said he was confident the 27 would start the two-year negotiations standing shoulder to shoulder. He says: "We have to show unity, and I have the impression that we will succeed."


10:00 a.m.

EU Council President Donald Tusk says that Britain will face a united bloc of 27 EU nations in the two years of divorce negotiations and said the welfare of citizens and families living in each other's nations will be the priority once the talks start.

The 27 EU leaders are meeting to finalize the cornerstones of their negotiating stance after British Prime Minister Theresa May triggered the exit talks on March 29. The negotiations themselves are to start shortly after snap elections in Britain on June 8.

Tusk said Saturday that all sides "need solid guarantees for all citizens and their families who will be affected by Brexit on both sides. This must be the No. 1 priority."