EU budget row expected to dominate Merkel-Blair talks

24th November 2005, Comments 0 comments

24 November 2005, LONDON - German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in London Thursday for her first meeting with Prime Minister Tony Blair, expected to focus on international relations and the crisis over the European Union (E.U.) budget.

24 November 2005

LONDON - German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in London Thursday for her first meeting with Prime Minister Tony Blair, expected to focus on international relations and the crisis over the European Union (E.U.) budget.

Merkel, who took over as Germany's first female Chancellor on Tuesday, has already visited Paris and Brussels.

British government sources said Blair hoped to rebuild a strong relationship with Germany, after tensions over Iraq soured his ties with Merkel's predecessor, Gerhard Schroeder.

Merkel, who reiterated traditionally strong ties with France during talks with French President Jacques Chirac Wednesday, has indicated an even-handed approach to solving the E.U. budget crisis.

The debate over the 2007-2013 budget, and the vexed question of Britain's budget rebate of close to 5 billion euros (5.9 billion dollars) was "one part of the whole compendium" on which a solution needed to be found, Merkel said.

"We need to address the concerns of all - net contributors and beneficiaries," Merkel said. Striking a deal on the budget did "not hinge on only one issue".

The Times newspaper said Thursday that Blair expected Merkel to reassure him of her "determination to mark out a different course for German foreign policy" by improving relations with the U.S.

Earlier in Paris, Merkel had stressed the centrality of the German-French alliance for Europe as a whole after meeting President Chirac.

That a visit to London should come so soon after being installed in office was being seen in Berlin as an attempt to improve communication after a period of cool relations.

Former chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's strident opposition to the Iraq war - and his use of it as a vote-getting issue in the 2002 German elections - served to strain relations with both London and Washington.

Copyright DPA with Expatica

Subject: German news

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