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FILE PHOTO: Italy's Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni takes part in a meeting with Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Trudeau's office on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, April 21, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

(reuters_tickers)

ROME (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said on Thursday the 27 European Union countries should remain united during negotiations with Great Britain on its exit from the bloc.

Speaking in parliament ahead of an extraordinary EU summit on Saturday called to set the terms for the negotiations, Gentiloni said he expected negotiations to begin in mid-June, and he "trusted" they would lead to a positive result in which the United Kingdom would remain a "friend and ally".

"It's crucial that the 27 countries remain united," Gentiloni said. "If the 27 countries are divided and each negotiates independently in its own interest, then it will kill all possibility of an accord."

(Reporting by Steve Scherer)

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