Brexit talks turn sour as EU, UK clash Feb 26, 2020 0 68 12345 AFPBrusselsBritain and Brussels clashed Tuesday over upcoming Brexit talks, with London roundly rejecting key elements of the EU’s negotiating platform, setting up an acrimonious start to negotiations next week.The EU’s chief negotiator warned the bloc would not abandon its principles to get a deal and took aim at a British minister as tensions between the two sides ramped up.Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman fired back, saying Britain would not cave to Brussels’ demands for access to fishing waters or its insistence that British companies stick to EU standards on goods.“We will not conclude an agreement at any price,” Barnier told reporters after EU ministers approved his negotiating mandate, warning that negotiations would be “difficult, perhaps even very difficult”.The talks are to begin in Brussels on Monday in an increasingly poisonous atmosphere, with the clock ticking down to a December 31 deadline to reach a deal. Johnson has ruled out seeking any extension.Britain left the EU at the end of January under the withdrawal agreement struck in late 2019, and will be regarded as a non-EU “third country” in the negotiations even though it still trades like an EU member until the end of December, when its transition period out of the bloc ends.Without an accord on the new relationship, trade between the EU and Britain would revert to a bare-bones arrangement under WTO rules, causing economic pain on both sides, but especially in the UK.Barnier’s mandate emphasises that Britain has to mirror European standards if it wants its goods to continue to have tariff-free access to the huge single market, saying that any deal struck with the UK must include “robust commitments” to uphold norms.Brussels fears that without these so-called “level playing field” guarantees, the UK might seek a competitive edge over Europe by undercutting its tax, environmental and labour standards.But Downing Street rejected this in a series of tweets sent while Barnier was still on his feet in the press conference, saying the EU had offered the US zero tariffs “without the kind of level playing field commitments” seen in Tuesday’s mandate. RELATED ARTICLES More coronavirus deaths, infections outside China raise pandemic fears Feb 26, 2020 0 551 Trump, accused of sexual misconduct himself, hails Weinstein verdict Feb 26, 2020 0 1029 Assange stripped naked and handcuffed, lawyer tells court Feb 26, 2020 0 392 13 killed, 150 injured in Delhi riots AFP New Delhi The death toll rose to 13 on Tuesday, with at least 150 injured, from some of the Indian capital’s worst sectarian violence in years as rampaging rioters in several parts of the city set fire to buildings and .. One dead, homes flooded after heavy rains in Indonesia Jakarta: Floods hit large sections of the Indonesian capital Jakarta and its surrounding areas on Tuesday after days of rain, inundating thousands of homes and killing at least one person. Floodwaters were recorded at .. Pakistan releases Pashtun rights activist from jail Peshawar: A leading Pakistani ethnic minority rights activist known for criticising the country’s powerful armed forces was released from jail on Tuesday, weeks after a court granted him bail. Manzoor Pashteen has .. Sweden summons Chinese ambassador over jailing of Swedish book publisher Stockholm: Sweden’s foreign ministry on Tuesday summoned the Chinese ambassador after Swedish book publisher Gui Minhai was jailed in China for 10 years on charges of illegally providing intelligence abroad. Gui, one .. COVID-19 spreads beyond Italy to other European countries Rome: New cases of the novel coronavirus were confirmed on Tuesday throughout Europe, in the continent’s hotspot of Italy, but also in Austria, Croatia, Spain and Switzerland, even as European health ministers were .. Top US official urges Afghans to unite for Taliban talks amid election dispute Washington: The United States on Tuesday urged Afghan leaders to unite for upcoming talks with the Taliban, pointedly not congratulating President Ashraf Ghani on his disputed victory. In a statement a week after the ..