PARIS, Jan. 19 (Xinhua) -- Talks over Britain's divorce from the European Union (EU) did not aim to punish Britons, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said on Thursday.
Meanwhile, he called on Britain not to cherry-pick over details on Brexit negotiations.
"There will be no cherry picking. But there is no question of punishing the United Kingdom. That is not the position of France," Ayrault said.
"The European Union will be directed by its simple principles to preserve its integrity, functioning and cohesion," he added.
French top diplomat's remarks came after his British counterpart Boris Johnson accused notably France of seeking to impose harsh terms on Britain over its exit from the EU bloc, calling them World War II-style "punishment beatings."
French President Francois Hollande had repeatedly said that Britain should respect the free movement of EU citizens if it wanted to remain part of the free-trade union.
Over a phone conversation with British Prime Minister Theresa May, Hollande said British decision of clear leave from the single-trading bloc is "expected."
"This decision shows the necessity of negotiations and the need for the 27-member of the European Union to gather and set targets to defend the EU interests," government spokesman Stephane Le Foll quoted Hollande as saying.
On Tuesday, May confirmed that Britain will break with the single market while insisting that it wants a "greatest possible" access to it.
Negotiations on quitting the EU will start by the end of March, she added.
In June 2016, Britain voted to leave the EU via a referendum.