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Portuguese Official: Full EU Membership Goal of Talks with Turkey

A top Portuguese official says full European Union membership will be the goal of EU talks with Turkey when his country takes over the group's rotating presidency Sunday.

Portugal's State Secretary for European Affairs Manuel Lobo Antunes told reporters in Brussels the goal of all accession talks is full EU membership. He said Portugal's major focus in coming months will be work on a treaty reforming EU institutions. He said there will not be sufficient time to take up calls by French President Nicolas Sarkozy for a wider debate on final EU borders that could preclude Turkish entry. The French leader opposes Turkey's EU membership

Earlier this week, EU and Turkish officials opened talks on two areas of the planned accord required for a country to gain entry. But France blocked the start of negotiations on economic and monetary policy.

EU enlargement issues must be approved by all 27 member-countries.

EU officials began membership talks with Turkey in October of 2005. But the union partially suspended negotiations on eight of 35 policy areas in December because of Ankara's refusal to grant access to its ports and airports by EU-member Cyprus. Turkey says it will not lift the ban until the union ends its isolation of the Turkish Cypriot community.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.