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BERLIN, Oct 6 (Reuters) - German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said on Thursday that the European Union should try to keep Britain as close as possible in negotiations on their future relationship following the Brexit vote, while safeguarding the bloc's interests.
Speaking at an industry event in Berlin, Gabriel said it was important to make clear that full access to the bloc's single market was ultimately linked to accepting freedom of movement.
"But this should not prevent us from trying to do everything to keep the Britons as close as possible to Europe. This must be our goal," Gabriel said.
"We must try to formulate offers in a way so that the Britons remain close to us, also to have the chance that they return some day," he added.
His comments marked a more cautions tone after Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed at the same event that the EU must stand firm by its position that access to the single market is linked to freedom of movement in negotiations with Britain. (Reporting by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Joseph Nasr)