France's Sarkozy to meet Merkel on Sunday

3rd October 2011, Comments 0 comments

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose countries are key to a solution to the eurozone crisis, are to meet in Berlin on Sunday, the German government said.

"This meeting will serve to prepare the forthcoming European council as well as the Eurogroup meeting on October 17 and 18 in Brussels," government spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement, referring to the EU summit.

After meeting Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou on Friday in Paris, Sarkozy promised last week to push Germany over his plan to more closely integrate eurozone economies.

Sarkozy said he would meet with Merkel "to discuss ways and means to accelerate the economic integration of the eurozone economy."

He also said he would push for Greece to receive a previously agreed EU bailout more quickly, despite concerns in some eurozone member states that Athens is dragging its feet over austerity measures.

"It's not possible to let Greece fall, for moral and economic reasons," Sarkozy said, adding that he believes Athens to be "totally determined" to live up to promises to slash its deficit.

Last week German lawmakers threw the ailing eurozone a lifeline by agreeing to boost the bloc's 440-billion-euro ($590-billion) bailout fund.

France will be one of the key contributors to the expanded fund while its own banks are critically exposed to sovereign debt from Greece and other weak links in the eurozone chain -- Italy, Spain and Portugal.

France's concern is not just to maintain the stability of the eurozone but also to protect its own banks, which are seen as overexposed to risky debt from countries such as Greece and short of liquidity.

© 2011 AFP

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