Merkel pledges close relations with France
23 November 2005, PARIS - On her first foreign visit as chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel on Wednesday agreed with her host, French President Jacques Chirac, that close relations between Paris and Berlin were of vital importance to Europe.
23 November 2005
PARIS - On her first foreign visit as chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel on Wednesday agreed with her host, French President Jacques Chirac, that close relations between Paris and Berlin were of vital importance to Europe.
Speaking to reporters following talks with Chirac, her first with a foreign head of state since being sworn in on Tuesday, Merkel said, "An intense relationship between France and Germany is important not only for both countries, but also for Europe."
She went on to say that her coming to Paris immediately after taking office "is not a ritual".
"I am here out of profound conviction," Merkel said.
Referring to the fact that she was the first-ever female German chancellor, Merkel said, "We will see in a few months if my feminine imagination will bring anything to French-German relations."
Merkel went on to invite the French president to visit Berlin at the beginning of December.
For his part, Chirac told journalists following his luncheon with Merkel that he was "very sensitive" to the fact that she had chosen Paris as her first official foreign stop, describing it as a "mark of friendship".
He went on to say that both he and Merkel believe that Europe must have "a truly solid Franco-German axis" to function well.
It remains to be seen, however, if Merkel's relationship with Chirac will be as close as was that of her predecessor, Gerhard Schroeder.
Chirac and Schroeder stood firmly together against the U.S.-led war in Iraq, causing a definite chilling in transatlantic relations. It is widely expected that Merkel will try to patch up relations with Washington and not go along with Chirac's view of Europe as a political counterweight to American power.
Following the Paris visit, Merkel and new German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who accompanied her on the trip, were scheduled to travel on to Brussels.
Subject: German news