Paris, March 30 (IANS) French President Francois Hollande on Thursday told UK Prime Minister Theresa May that the top issue regarding Brexit negotiations was the terms under which the country will leave the European Union (EU).
During a phone conference, Hollande told May that the Brexit negotiations must take place in a "clear and constructive manner, so as to lift uncertainties and to fully respect the rules and interests of the 27-member EU," Efe news reported.
Therefore, according to Hollande, "the (two-year) talks must at first be about the terms of withdrawal, dealing especially with citizens' rights and obligations resulting from the commitments made" by the UK.
Hollande said that on the basis of the "progress made" on that front, the bloc could "open discussions on the framework of future relations between the UK and the EU".
He asserted that the process formally notified on Wednesday by May in accordance with the will of the British people will not begin with the negotiation of future UK-EU relations, as London would have wished for.
Hollande pointed out that Brexit was going to be "financially painful" for the UK, adding that the country must assume the cost measured in labour, in freedom of transit and in financial terms.
The President said that this process had already begun with the relocation of UK-based companies over to his country, although he stressed that France had no intention of "punishing" the British people.