EU chief hopeful for Britain reform deal in February

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BRUSSELS (AP) — Talks on reforms to keep Britain in the European Union are difficult, the president of the European Council said Monday — but he added that he hopes an offer can be made to the U.K. in February.

Donald Tusk said in a letter to EU leaders that "we should be able to prepare a concrete proposal to be finally adopted in February."

Britain will hold a referendum by the end of 2017 to decide whether to leave the 28-nation bloc. Prime Minister David Cameron wants to stay in if he can secure certain reforms.

They include giving member states more autonomy and allowing Britain to restrict benefits for EU immigrants.

Tusk said EU leaders, at a meeting on Dec. 17, would have to overcome "substantial political differences" to meet some demands.

Cameron agreed that "the whole renegotiation is difficult," but said Tusk's letter was "encouraging in that the British reform agenda is being taken on, it's going to be discussed and I hope it will be brought to a successful conclusion."

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