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Brexit: Angela Merkel to meet Leo Varadkar in Dublin

Angela Merkel Image copyright AFP/Getty Images Image caption Angela Merkel is visiting Dublin for the first time in five years

The German Chancellor Angela Merkel will arrive in Dublin on Thursday for talks with the taoiseach (Irish prime minister) about the Brexit deadlock.

It comes just days after Leo Varadkar held discussions with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron in Paris.

Parliament is still no closer to passing a Brexit deal, with the UK scheduled to leave the EU on 12 April.

On Wednesday, the EU said the date was “the ultimate deadline” for approving the withdrawal agreement.

It has been rejected by MPs in Parliament three times, with DUP MPs voting against it – while independent unionist MP for North Down, Lady Hermon, voted in favour.

Image copyright PA Image caption Angela Merkel is “a strong and unwavering ally of Ireland”, says Leo Varadkar

Speaking ahead of Mrs Merkel’s visit to Dublin, the taoiseach said she was “a strong and unwavering ally of Ireland”.

“This is also an opportunity to consider other issues on the EU’s agenda and reflect on how Ireland and Germany can strengthen further the already excellent relations between our two countries,” he added.

Ahead of their meeting, the taoiseach and chancellor will also participate in a discussion with people from Northern Ireland and the border area about the impact a no-deal Brexit could have on their livelihoods.

Mr Varadkar said it was “important” to hear the voices of people who lived and worked along the Irish border.

On Tuesday, President Macron said the EU would not be hostage to a “political crisis” in the UK.

Analysis: Shane Harrison, BBC News NI Dublin correspondent

It is five years since the German chancellor was last in Dublin and although the Angela Merkel era is in its twilight she remains the most powerful politician in the EU.

Both she and Leo Var

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