Merkel-Hollande meeting ‘won’t take decisions’

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman on Monday sought to play down meetings this week with the leaders of France and Greece, saying that no "significant decisions" would be taken.

Merkel meets French President Francois Hollande on Thursday and Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras a day later, with recession-wracked Greece's future in the eurozone hanging in the balance.

But spokesman Steffen Seibert told a regular government news conference: "I can tell you what is not expected … that strong positions will be laid out
or significant decisions taken. That will not happen."

Nevertheless, he said that the topic of Greece would be "at the centre" of the Franco-German talks, amid reports Samaras wants to discuss a two-year
extension to a deadline for major spending cuts and reforms.

"The basis for all decisions in the case of Greece is the report of the Troika," said Seibert, referring to a document expected in September by
international auditors on Greek reforms.

"The federal government's main thought is that we are doing what is best for the euro," insisted Seibert.

The Troika is made up of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund and the German government is not directly involved in drawing up the report.

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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.