LONDON (Reuters) – UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s office denied a BBC report that a deal for Britain to rejoin the European Union’s Horizon scientific research scheme had been negotiated and was awaiting approval.

No deal has been agreed upon and talks are ongoing, Britain’s government said.

The UK has been negotiating with the EU over rejoining Horizon after London and Brussels settled their dispute over post-Brexit trade rules governing Northern Ireland in February.

The BBC cited “highly placed sources” as saying an agreement had been reached over how much funding the UK should provide and there are now two options for associate membership for Sunak to consider.

“A deal has not been agreed. As the EU have said themselves, we are in discussions about this,” Sunak’s spokesperson told reporters, adding that the government wanted value for money.

“Those talks have been constructive so far, but we continue to explore all options, including a UK-based option, which is the Pioneer alternative.”

Pioneer is a British research funding programme announced in April in case talks on rejoining Horizon fail, although many British research scientists are keen for a return to Horizon.

(Reporting by Sarah Young, additional reporting by Alistair Smout; Editing by Christina Fincher and Devika Syamnath)

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