Weber tells paper Brexit deal must avoid hard border in Northern Ireland

FILE PHOTO: A sign for customs and excise is seen on the motorway approaching the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, near Newry, Northern Ireland July 13, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

BERLIN (Reuters) - Any deal on Britain's withdrawal from the European Union must ensure that a hard border in Northern Ireland is avoided, Manfred Weber, leader of the European People's Party in the European Parliament told a German newspaper on Wednesday.

"This is no normal border, a few years ago we had violence and deaths in Northern Ireland. Any treaty put to the European Parliament must contain a ruling on how a hard border in Northern Ireland is avoided," Weber told Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

He added that Britain must decide between a close partnership with links to the EU single market coupled with obligations, like the EU's relationship with Norway, or looser ties involving a trade deal like the one with Canada.

(This story has been refiled to add dropped letter in 3rd paragraph to read 'looser')

(Reporting by Caroline Copley and Madeline Chambers)