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Highlights - Comments from EU leaders' Brussels summit

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union leaders met in Brussels for a second day of summit talks on Friday, to discuss relations with Russia and the situation in Syria, as well as economic policies.

Following are comments from EU leaders and officials after their second day of talks:

BRITISH PRIME MINISTER DAVID CAMERON

ON SYRIA:

"We are two years into this dreadful conflict and there are probably over 70,000 people who have lost their lives.

"We have to be frank that what the international community has done so far, of course it has helped in terms of humanitarian assistance..., but it hasn't overall worked in terms of stopping this conflict and achieving transition in Syria.

"(French President) Francois Hollande and I have agreed that it is also right to look at further changes in terms of the arms embargo.

"Two years in, 70,000 people are dead, there is a huge refugee and humanitarian crisis, (Syrian President Bashar al-)Assad is still in place, he is still being strongly supplied and strengthened by others and we need to put pressure on to bring about the transition that is necessary for the Syrian people, necessary for the stability of that region and in our national interest too."

ON THE EU BUDGET:

"We did a really important deal for the future of the EU budget. We cut the limit of the EU credit card. There should be no change to the ceiling that was agreed.

"Of course the European Parliament will have points it wants to make, will have ideas it wants to put forward. But the ceiling is the ceiling, the rebate is the rebate and they are not going to change."

ON EU GROWTH:

"We need a more flexible, a more open, a more competitive Europe. We need a Europe that doesn't over-regulate, in fact we need a Europe that starts to take the regulation off. We need the ratchet to go in the other direction, and with the Commission's help we are now starting to see some progress on that front."

GERMAN CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL

ON POSSIBILITY OF SUPPORT FOR CYPRUS:

"If you consider that at a certain point in time, Cyprus could not finance itself, then... you don't want to reach such a point, from a political point of view.

"But one cannot say that just because you don't want to reach such a point, politically, that you must help under any conditions. To leave Cyprus up to its own devices and simply see what happens would not be responsible, in my view."

EUROPEAN COUNCIL PRESIDENT HERMAN VAN ROMPUY

ON REASSESSING THE ARMS EMBARGO ON SYRIA:

"The question of the arms embargo was raised by some members of the European Council. We agreed to task our foreign ministers to assess the situation as a matter of priority, already at their informal meeting next week in Dublin and to develop common positions."

"We are in the midst of a debate. It is normal that countries, ministers, leaders express their point of view.

"But in the past, on different issues, I remember Libya, we also started with nuances and sometimes more than nuances, in how to act in Libya and in the end we had a common position. It is part of a democratic process.

"But we decided today that we tasked our foreign ministers to put this issue of Syria and the arms embargo, and the eventual lifting of the arms embargo, as point number one on their agenda, and of course to find a common ground."

(Reporting by John O'Donnell, Justyna Pawlak, Robin Emmott and Robert-Jan Bartunek)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130315/highlights-comments-eu-leaders-brussels-summit