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ANGELA MERKEL

Marine Le Pen blasts ‘outrageous’ meddling Merkel

France's Marine Le Pen has scolded the "outrageous" Angela Merkel after the German chancellor vowed to help make sure the far-right National Front leader never becomes president.

Marine Le Pen blasts 'outrageous' meddling Merkel
Le Pen versus Merkel. Only one winner surely. Photo: AFP

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday she would do what she can to help curb the rise of France's National Front
(FN), as support surges for far-right parties across Europe.

“I will make my contribution towards ensuring that other political forces are stronger than the National Front,” she told students attending the French high school in Berlin.

Merkel, who rarely comments on neighbouring France's political scene, said that in Germany too, the rise of the far-right was a phenomenon that “we have to deal with”.

“We see that there are political forces with very negative rhetoric on Europe,” she said, referring to the German populist party Alternative for Germany (AfD).

“We have to ensure that Europe is a project that people understand,” she said, adding that a key message that has to hit home is that “it's better with Europe than without Europe”.

National Front leader Marine Le Pen swiftly released an outraged statement on Merkel's “very serious” comments.

She slammed the German leader's intervention as “an outrageous and humiliating interference in our internal affairs.”

Merkel's promise to influence events also displayed “the submission of our country to Germany,” she added, referring mockingly to French President Francois Hollande as a “vice chancellor”.

The French National front and the German AfD have differing economic views but are joined in their opposition to the European Union.

Formed only three years ago on a eurosceptic platform, AfD is now Germany's third strongest party, according to a recent opinion poll.

The populist upstart outfit has shifted its rhetoric to one that rails against the influx of 1.1 million asylum seekers in 2015, and last weekend adopted an anti-Islam platform.

Like AfD, France's National Front is anti-EU.

Le Pen has overseen an unprecedented rise in her party's fortunes and many pollsters predict the FN will make it to the second round of the French presidential election next year.

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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 moments 

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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