UPDATE 2-Ireland sees "a way to go" before agreement on border in Brexit talks


* Ireland wants details on border deal

* Sees backing from new EU working paper

* Says UK may need to avoid 'regulatory divergence' (Adds quote from EU task force working paper on Ireland)

DUBLIN, Nov 10 (Reuters) - Ireland's foreign minister warned on Friday there was still "a way to go" in Brexit talks on the Irish border and welcomed an EU paper suggesting Britain needs to avoid "regulatory divergence" with the bloc if it wants to maintain a soft border.

The future EU/UK land border between Ireland and Northern Ireland is one of three issues -- along with the exit bill and safeguarding expatriate rights -- that Brussels wants broadly solved before it decides in December whether to give the green light to move on to talks on future trade relations.

"I think that there is a way to go between the two negotiating teams to be able to provide credible answers and sufficient progress in the context of the Irish border before we can move on to Phase Two," Coveney told Irish state broadcaster RTE.

"While we welcome the language we get from the British government in the context of north-south challenges... there has always been a skepticism on how we are going to get there in the context of the British approach to Brexit as a whole."

The Irish government has called on Britain to do more than simply promise a "hard" border will not return between it and Northern Ireland, which until a 1998 peace deal was separated by military checkpoints because of 30 years of sectarian violence in the British province.

Coveney reiterated that if Britain leaves the EU's customs union and does not form some form of new bilateral customs union with the EU, that it is hard to see how London can honor its commitment to avoid any physical border infrastructure.

This point was underlined in a working paper from the European Union's Brexit task force issued this week.

"It ...seems essential for the UK to commit to ensuring that a hard border on the island of Ireland is avoided, including by ensuring no emergence of regulatory divergence from those rules of the internal market and the Customs Union," the paper said, according to a copy seen by Reuters.

Following the latest round of talks on Friday, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, told a news conference that the two sides needed to identify the "regulatory and technical" solutions necessary to prevent a hard border.

Coveney said the paper showed that the other 26 EU countries remained "absolutely in sync" with Ireland on the issue.

"I think it is important that signal is very clear at this stage rather than at the very end of this round of negotiations in the build-up to December."

While Britain restated its commitment on Friday to avoid erecting any physical infrastructure on the border, it also plans to quit the customs union and does not want to be bound by EU rules and regulations once it leaves.

Brexit minister David Davis said a deal on the border was only possible in the context of talks on future trade and that there cannot be any new border inside the UK as a result, a nod to the Northern Ireland unionists backing his government firmly opposed to the province staying in the customs union.

Asked whether Ireland might veto a move onto trade talks, Coveney said he did not think it was helpful "at this stage" to talk about individual countries blocking things. (Additional reporting by Padraic Halpin in Dublin and Jan Strupczewski in Brussels; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)