By Alastair Macdonald BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Britain need not send a formal letter to the European Union to trigger a two-year countdown to its exit from the bloc, EU officials said, implying British Prime Minister David Cameron could start the process when he speaks at a summit on Tuesday. "'Triggering' ... could either be a letter to the president of the European Council or an official statement at a meeting of the European Council duly noted in the official records of the meeting," a spokesman for the council of EU leaders said.
By John Irish and Andreas Rinke BERLIN/HERMANNSWERDER, Germany (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Saturday for clear-headed negotiations with "close partner" Britain over its departure from the European Union. Foreign ministers of the EU's six founding members had earlier said Britain should leave the bloc as soon as possible after Britons voted on Thursday to quit the 28-member bloc. "Britain will remain a close partner, with which we are linked economically," she said, adding that there was no hurry for Britain to invoke Article 50 of the EU treaty - the first step it must take to set in motion the exit process.