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European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker attends a debate on the priorities of the incoming Malta Presidency of the EU for the next six months at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, January 18, 2017. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

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STRASBOURG (Reuters) - European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Wednesday he told Prime Minister Theresa May that EU negotiators were "not in a hostile mood" towards Britain but that Brexit talks would be "very, very, very" difficult.

The EU chief executive told a news conference that he had spoken to May on Tuesday after she outlined her plans for leaving the European Union and welcomed the clarity she gave. He said EU negotiators would seek a fair deal for both sides.

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, whose government holds the rotating presidency of EU councils, was asked at the same news conference if he heard a threat in May's warning that EU measures to penalise Britain would damage the continental bloc. He replied that he had not heard a "declaration of war".

(Reporting by Alastair Macdonald; editing by Philip Blenkinsop)

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