Austria denies chancellor backed down on EU talks with Turkey

September 17, 2016 11:30 AM EDT

Austria's Chancellor Christian Kern arrives for the European Union summit- the first one since Britain voted to quit- in Bratislava, Slovakia, September 16, 2016. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

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VIENNA (Reuters) - Austria's Chancellor Christian Kern on Saturday denied a German newspaper report which said he had backed down from his call to end European Union accession talks with Turkey.

"The chancellor maintains his call for breaking off EU accession negotiations with Turkey," a spokeswoman for Kern said.

German weekly Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (FAS) earlier quoted Kern as saying that "now is not the best time to ask for a termination of the accession negotiations." The paper said it was citing participants at the EU summit in Bratislava.

Kern said in August that he would start a discussion among European heads of government to quit talks with Turkey about joining the EU because of what he said were the country's democratic and economic deficits.

The spokeswoman said Kern nevertheless sees Turkey as an important partner in economic and security policy.

(Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; Editing by Dominic Evans)

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