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Hollande-Merkel meeting: no decisions expected

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will hold talks on the eurozone crisis with French President Francois Hollande in Berlin on Tuesday after his inauguration, her spokesman said.

“It sends a very strong message that the new French president is making his first trip abroad to Germany,” Steffen Seibert told a regular government news conference Friday, adding that the talks would also cover bilateral relations.

But, Seibert added, the meeting will not be aimed at “decision-making”.

“It’s, of course, not a decision-making meeting but a getting-to-know-you meeting, a first get-together,” Steffen Seibert told a regular news conference ahead of the Tuesday evening meeting.

“The chancellor is looking forward to close and friendly cooperation with the new French president.

“She is sure that the traditionally close coordination with France will continue to be the foundation of their work together in Europe – to ensure prosperity, peace and democracy in the long run,” he added.

Merkel, a conservative, will welcome Hollande, a socialist, with military honours at her chancellery at 1630 GMT and hold a joint press conference with him after the meeting, Seibert said.

Aides to Hollande had said Thursday that Hollande would fly to Berlin within hours of his swearing-in ceremony.

Hollande is to formally become president of France on Tuesday at 10:00 am (0800 GMT) replacing Merkel’s defeated French ally Nicolas Sarkozy, and will name his prime minister before flying to Berlin, aides said.

The Socialist leader had previously promised that his first visit would be to the German capital, where Merkel has said he would be welcomed with “open arms”.

France and Germany – Europe’s biggest economies – have traditionally been seen as close allies and the motor of European integration.

But ties have come under strain during the debt crisis, with Sarkozy at first pushing for Germany to allow greater burden-sharing within the eurozone, before backing down and tacitly accepting Merkel’s leadership.

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ANGELA MERKEL

Merkel and Macron to meet for dinner in Berlin on Friday

French President Emmanuel Macron will have dinner with Angela Merkel in Berlin on Friday - the first time this year the German chancellor has received a foreign leader in person, her spokeswoman said.

Merkel and Macron to meet for dinner in Berlin on Friday
Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron at the G7 summit. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/Pool Getty Images/AP | Leon Neal

The working dinner at the chancellery will focus on “European policy issues”, government spokeswoman Martina Fietz said on Monday.

Talks will focus on the “coordination between Germany and France” ahead of an EU summit in Brussels on June 24-25, she said.

The dinner meeting comes after G7 leaders gathered in England at the weekend for their first in-person summit in almost two years.

VIDEO: Watch Merkel’s funniest momentsĀ 

World leaders were also meeting in Brussels on Monday for the first NATO summit with US President Joe Biden.

Subjects on the agenda included how to deal with China’s rise and confronting an emboldened Russia, ahead of a meeting between Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva on Wednesday.

At the EU summit, leaders are due to discuss the Covid-19 pandemic, economic recovery, migration and external relations, including with Turkey and Russia.

At an online Franco-German council of ministers in May, Macron paid tribute to the German chancellor, who is bowing out of politics this year after 16 years in power.

“This last council allows me to say how much the Franco-German relationship owes to your commitment, your willingness to take action, sometimes your patience with us, and your ability to listen,” Macron said.

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