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Now that Britain wants out, EU must figure out how to do it

BRUSSELS (AP) — Now that Britain has voted to leave the European Union, the bloc’s first order of business is figuring out how to get rid of it. Surprisingly, that’s a tall order.

Britain seemingly has the luxury to pick and choose when to start the laborious, intricate process of disengagement from the 28-nation group, which is expected to take years.

EU leaders exhorted Britain on Saturday to activate as soon as possible Article 50 of the EU’s governing Lisbon Treaty, which contains the exit clause and is the key to let the EU get on with its political life.

“There is urgency. There is no time to lose,” said French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault.

Britain, however, saw no need for quick action.

“It is vital to stress that there is now no need for haste,” said former London Mayor Boris Johnson, the most prominent supporter of the “leave” campaign.

Prime Minister David Cameron said the process probably would not be triggered before October, when he will step down.

“There is a clear plea from the majority of member states to speed this process up,” said Foreign Minister Bert Koenders of the Netherlands, which holds the EU presidency.

On Saturday, the foreign ministers of the EU’s six founding members — Germany, France, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg — were meeting in Berlin to look at the legal landscape.

At a two-day summit of the 28 EU leaders opening Tuesday, Cameron will be asked to leave the room at some stage so they can assess their future without Britain.

The 27 will find much political and legal uncertainty.

No country has ever left the EU before, so no one knows exactly how the process will play out beyond the fact that Britain must, at some point, unambiguously notify the bloc of its intentions and set a two-year clock ticking for negotiating its departure. Until it formally withdraws, Britain will remain a member, with all the rights and obligations that go along with membership.

It is in Britain’s interest to delay the process so it can better prepare its exit conditions and pressure other EU nations to make concessions.

In the short term, the EU’s policy commissioners will meet Monday in Brussels to take stock of developments. The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, must make recommendations to Britain’s partners about what principles they might use to guide the exit negotiations.

Member states must agree with a qualified majority — or about two-thirds — on Britain’s departure. But should the talks drag on toward the two-year time limit, all 27 would have to agree unanimously to extend the negotiations. If none is allowed, EU law would automatically cease to apply to Britain after two years.

The European Parliament will hold an emergency session Tuesday, hours before the summit. It must endorse any final decision by the member states by a simple majority, but the session is only likely to focus on a political resolution taking note of the U.K. vote and stating the assembly’s position on what should happen next.

Until the process is completed and Britain withdraws, any EU agencies on British territory could remain there, British EU lawmakers would still work in the parliament, and the U.K. would still have a say in other negotiations, such as trade talks with other countries.

In addition, the hundreds of British citizens employed by the EU’s institutions and agencies could keep their jobs conceivably for a few more years.


Chinese team confirmed in Kontinental Hockey League

MOSCOW (AP) — The Russia-based Kontinental Hockey League has confirmed that it will add a Chinese club next season as it competes against the NHL in Asian markets.

Kunlun Red Star, based out of Beijing, has been approved by the KHL board to join the league and now faces a rush to get ready for the start of play in August. The KHL says a formal contract ceremony will take place Saturday in China.

With just over two months until the start of the season, the KHL says it is still working on Kunlun’s “formation of the roster and plans for pre-season training.”

Former New Jersey Devils wing Ilya Kovalchuk is among several Russian stars who have been named in local media as possible signings for Kunlun.


AP PHOTOS: A selection of pictures from the past week

Highlights from the weekly AP photo report, a gallery featuring a mix of front-page photography, the odd image you might have missed and lasting moments our editors think you should see.

This week’s gallery features images of Churchill’s silhouette against Parliament, an indigenous Andean New Year’s ritual and a sit-in at Congress.

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This gallery contains photos published June 10-17, 2016.

See the latest AP photo galleries: http://apne.ws/TXeCBN

The Archive: Top photo highlights from previous weeks: http://apne.ws/13QUFKJ

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Follow AP photographers on Twitter: http://twitter.com/AP/lists/ap-photographers

Follow AP Images on Twitter: http://twitter.com/AP_Images

Visit AP Images online: http://www.apimages.com http://www.apimages.com/

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This gallery was produced by Patrick Sison in New York.


The Latest: UK opposition leaders urges calm response

LONDON (AP) — The Latest on Britain’s historic vote to leave the European Union (all times local):

1 p.m.

British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn says Britain must react “calmly and rationally” to the divisive EU referendum campaign.

Corbyn, whose Labour Party backed a vote to stay in the bloc, says the areas that voted most strongly to leave are “communities that have effectively been abandoned” by economic change and the austerity policies of Britain’s Conservative government.

He told a meeting in London Saturday that politicians needed to take seriously voters’ concerns about immigration, which led many to back a British exit from the 28-nation EU.

Many Labour lawmakers strongly backed “remain” and accuse the socialist Corbyn, a longtime critic of the EU, of failing to rally party supporters behind staying in the bloc. Several are trying to rally support behind a bid to unseat Corbyn.

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12:55 p.m.

Luxembourg’s foreign minister says Britain needs to quickly start negotiations with the European Union on its exit from the trade bloc.

Speaking Saturday in Berlin after meeting with other top European diplomats, Jean Asselborn said he hoped there would be no “cat and mouse” game now and that Britain would invoke Article 50 of the EU charter, which allows for a country to leave.

“There must be clarity,” Asselborn told reporters. “The people have spoken and we need to implement this decision.”

He added that once outside the bloc, Britain would be a “third country” — the EU term for non-members — in terms of trade agreements but emphasized that was “not meant negatively.”

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12:50 p.m.

Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon says Scotland will launch immediate talks with European Union nations and institutions to find a way to remain in the bloc despite Britain’s vote to leave.

Sturgeon says voters in Scotland gave “emphatic” backing to remaining in the bloc. A majority of voters in more-populous England opted to leave.

After meeting with her Cabinet she said “we will seek to enter into immediate discussion” with the rest of the EU.

She says a new referendum on Scottish independence from the United Kingdom is “very much on the table.”

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12:40 p.m.

European foreign ministers are urging quick negotiations on Britain’s departure from the EU to avoid prolonged financial and political insecurity for the continent.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said “there is a certain urgency … so that we don’t have a period of uncertainty, with financial consequences, political consequences.”

He spoke in Berlin on Saturday alongside counterparts from the other five founding members of what has become the EU — Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. They also spoke of the need for a speedy renegotiation.

He also urged the remaining 27 EU countries to return to “the spirit of the founders” of European unity, forged to prevent conflict via trade after World War II. “It is up to us to recreate this spirit,” he said, noting all the European countries that subsequently joined after overthrowing dictatorships and embracing democracy.

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12:20 p.m.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier says negotiations on British exit should begin “as soon as possible” but adds that “intensive European discussions” are needed.

Speaking after a meeting in Berlin with foreign ministers of the other five founding members of the EU, Steinmeier there is a need to “show the people of Europe that Europe is important, and not only important but able to carry out its work.”

He also called for Britain to engage in talks sooner rather than later. He says: “We understand and respect the result and understand that Great Britain will now concentrate on Great Britain,” but adds that Britain as a responsibility to work with the EU on exit terms.

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10:05 a.m.

French President Francois Hollande says the British vote to leave the European Union poses questions “for the whole planet.”

Hollande vowed Saturday to maintain relations with Britain, notably concerning migrants crossing between the two countries and military and economic cooperation.

Speaking after a meeting in Paris with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Hollande said: “For the entire planet there is a question, what will happen?”

He called for an orderly separation between Britain and the EU after Thursday’s historic vote to exit the bloc, formed after two world wars to prevent new conflict via trade cooperation.

Hollande, whose country was a founding pillar of European unity, is holding emergency meetings Saturday with leaders of France’s political parties as EU leaders try to keep the bloc from unravelling after the British vote.

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08:30 a.m.

Top diplomats from the European Union’s original six founding nations are meeting in Berlin for hastily arranged talks following Britain’s stunning vote to leave the bloc.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier says it is critical to see the vote as a wakeup call. He was heading into meetings Saturday with his counterparts from France, Netherlands, Italy, Belgium and Luxembourg.

Steinmeier says EU politicians must listen “to the expectations of the European governments but also to the expectations of the people.”

He cautioned against rash decisions, saying that “it’s totally clear that in times like these one should neither be hysterical nor fall into paralysis.”

Steinmeier’s office says the meeting is one of many conversations now taking place, and shouldn’t be seen as “an exclusive format.”


Russian President Putin meets with Chinese leaders

BEIJING (AP) — President Vladimir Putin has praised what he calls Russia’s “all-embracing and strategic partnership” with China, at the start of a visit to Beijing that comes against the background of a drop in trade and lingering mistrust.

Putin told Chinese Premier Li Keqiang that ties were based firmly on common economic interests, a reference to Russian hopes for Chinese investment and purchases of its oil, gas and other natural resources.

Leaders in both countries have extolled the blossoming strategic partnership between the former communist rivals, despite a major shrinkage in two-way trade and a slew of ambitious projects that have remained largely on paper.

Observers attribute the slow progress to Beijing’s hard-nosed bargaining position and the Kremlin’s deep-seated suspicions about the growing power of its mighty partner.


Arizona abandons use of sedative as a lethal-injection drug

PHOENIX (AP) — The state of Arizona has eliminated its use of the sedative midazolam as one of the drugs it relies on in carrying out executions.

Lawyers for the state said in a court filing Friday that its current supply of midazolam expired on May 31 and that Arizona’s sources of the drug have dried up because of pressure from opponents of the death penalty.

That leaves Arizona with other lethal-drug combinations, but the state’s lawyers said they can’t currently carry out executions because it has no access to supplies of pentobarbital and sodium thiopental.

The status of the state’s lethal-injection drug supplies were revealed Friday in a court filing in a lawsuit that challenges the way Arizona carries out the death penalty.

Executions in Arizona were put on hold after the July 2014 death of convicted killer Joseph Rudolph Wood, who was given 15 doses of midazolam and a painkiller and who took nearly two hours to die. His attorney says the execution was botched.

Executions in Arizona remain on hold until the lawsuit is resolved.

A ruling last month by U.S. District Judge Neil Wake dismissed parts of the lawsuit, but other elements of the case remain alive.

The state argued in its filing Friday that the lawsuit is moot now that midazolam is off the table.

Dale Baich, one of the attorneys representing death row prisoners, said that even if the lawsuit’s claims involving lethal-injection drugs are dismissed, his clients still have claims that Arizona Department of Corrections Director Charles Ryan has abused his discretion in the methods and amounts of the drugs used in past executions.

“It’s our belief that the unlimited discretion that the director has during the execution process violates the Eighth Amendment,” which forbids cruel and unusual punishment, Baich said.

Similar challenges to the death penalty are playing out in other parts of the country that seek more transparency about where states get their execution drugs.

States are struggling to obtain execution drugs because European pharmaceutical companies began blocking the use of their products for lethal injections. Death penalty states refuse to disclose the sources of their drugs, though the sources are widely believed to be compounding pharmacies — organizations that make drugs tailored to the needs of a specific client. Those pharmacies do not face the same approval process or testing standards of larger pharmaceutical companies.

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Follow Jacques Billeaud at twitter.com/jacquesbilleaud. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/jacques-billeaud.


British brace for economic repercussions of EU exit decision

LONDON (AP) — The British were warned for weeks that a vote to leave the European Union would result in economic pain. Now they’ll find out whether it will.

U.K. financial leaders are scrambling to reassure households, businesses and investors that they can contain the doom and gloom they had predicted in case of a British exit, or Brexit. The pound plunged to its lowest level in over 30 years on Friday, raising concerns about price inflation, and shares in the U.K.’s biggest banks and real estate builders posted double-digit declines as economists predicted the country would fall into recession.

Economists slashed their forecasts for Britain, with some expecting a recession and next to no growth next year. That’s a sharp reverse for an economy that had been among the best-performing in the developed world in recent years.

In an early sign of problems, Moody’s Investors Service downgraded the U.K. outlook from “stable” to “negative.” The referendum result, it said, “will herald a prolonged period of uncertainty for the UK, with negative implications for the country’s medium-term growth outlook.”

Holly Miller, 32, said the vote would affect her economic life profoundly.

“I’m quite shocked by it all,” she said. “I’m just applying for a mortgage so we’re worried about that.”

Only the soothing reassurances of Bank of England Governor Mark Carney managed to ease the market carnage on Friday, as he pledged to stabilize markets if needed. But beyond the short-term market turmoil, the concern is what the vote means for the national economy and its 64 million people.

Before the vote, with campaigning in full swing, the British Treasury had estimated that an exit from the EU would cost the country the equivalent of 4,300 pounds ($5,900) per household. Tax receipts would face a 30 billion pounds shortfall that would have to be filled with tax increases on income and inheritance. House prices, the Treasury had said, could be as much as 18 percent lower by 2018 than if the country hadn’t left the EU.

Campaigners for “leave” dismissed this as scare-mongering. With the vote result confirmed, the “remain” camp sought to shift away from warnings and into damage control: trying to maintain confidence in the business community and among households.

The City of London Corporation, which represents the financial services industry, a big maker of money and jobs for the country, sought to downplay the impact of the vote on the City, the square mile that is the heart of London’s financial hub.

“The City of London has thrived as a financial and trading center for more than a thousand years and will continue to do so,” Mark Boleat, policy chairman for the Corporation, said in a statement. “There will be no mass exit of banks and financial institutions from the square mile. While there will be uncertainty as Brexit negotiations go on we are still the financial center of the fifth-largest economy in the world.”

Some companies, particularly banks, had said they could move jobs away from London if Britain leaves the EU. That is likely to cost some jobs. How many is yet to be seen.

The British economy could also find it more costly to raise money. Ratings agency Standard & Poor’s is considering downgrading the country because of the uncertainty related to the vote. A lower rating could mean higher borrowing costs for the government — and in the longer term, less money to spend on schools, hospitals and roads.

“The real question now is how badly the EU will punish the U.K. for this decision,” said Megan Greene, chief economist at Manulife Asset Management.

Others were looking on the bright side.

At First Property Group, a London-based real estate investment firm, Chief Executive Ben Habib, who backed leaving the EU, said the vote means Britain will now be able to drive a better deal with the rest of Europe.

Supporters of the “leave” campaign had accepted that there was a potential economic cost to leaving the EU, but have claimed it is a short-term price to pay in exchange for greater control of policies like immigration and borders.

“We now have the foundations for a very good negotiation with the EU,” he said, while minimizing the market turmoil. “The markets are gyrating, but these are gyrations and will not materially affect our economy.”

Habib said the drop in the pound would help British exporters by making their goods cheaper and more competitive in the global marketplace.

Habib’s colleague and friend George Digby, however, was less upbeat. He had voted to remain and said the best he could do was wait and see if there is significant economic damage, as his “remain” camp had claimed.

“I hope I am proved wrong on that score,” he said.


EU’s founding members say talks on UK exit needed urgently

BERLIN (AP) — The founding members of the European Union on Saturday urged for quick negotiations about Britain’s departure from the bloc, saying the other 27 countries in the union need to move ahead and think about the future.

In a display of unity in Berlin, foreign ministers of the six founding members urged for quick negotiations to avoid prolonged financial and political insecurity for the continent.

“There is a certain urgency … so that we don’t have a period of uncertainty, with financial consequences, political consequences,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said.

He spoke alongside counterparts from the other five founding members of what has become the EU — Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. They all spoke of the need for a speedy renegotiation.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier also said negotiations on a British exit, or Brexit, should begin “as soon as possible” and added that “intensive European discussions” are needed.

Steinmeier said there is a need to “show the people of Europe that Europe is important, and not only important but able to carry out its work.”

Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said he hoped there would be no “cat and mouse” game now and that Britain would invoke Article 50 of the EU charter, which allows for a country to leave.

“There must be clarity,” Asselborn told reporters. “The people have spoken and we need to implement this decision.”

He added that once outside the bloc, Britain would be a “third country” — the EU term for non-members — in terms of trade agreements but emphasized that was “not meant negatively.”

All six ministers said they agreed that Europe needs to do more to solve pressing issues like the migration crisis, unemployment and security concerns following the terror attacks in France and Belgium.


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