UK PM tells Irish leader substantial differences remain over N. Ireland trade

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Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Ireland's Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Micheal Martin greet each other with an elbow bump at Hillsborough Castle, in Belfast
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LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told his Irish counterpart Micheal Martin on Wednesday that significant gaps remain between Britain and the European Union on trading arrangements for Northern Ireland.

Relations between Brussels and London have deteriorated in recent weeks after Britain, unhappy with the deal it signed up to in 2020, threatened to trigger an emergency clause known as Article 16, potentially leading to a trade war.

Since leaving the EU last year Britain has delayed the introduction of some border checks that were designed to avoid the need for a hard frontier between the British province and EU member Ireland. London says the checks are disproportionate and threaten Northern Ireland's 1998 peace deal.

"The prime minister raised his ongoing concern about the substantial distance between the UK and EU positions when it comes to resolving the issues with the Northern Ireland Protocol," a spokesperson for Johnson said after the call.

Martin said in a tweet he had told Johnson it remained his view that every effort should be made to secure a successful outcome to the current EU/UK negotiations.

(Reporting by Andrew MacAskill, Editing by Paul Sandle)

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