Villepin in Berlin for Europe talks with Merkel

18th January 2006, Comments 0 comments

BERLIN, Jan 18, 2006 (AFP) - French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin was due in Berlin Wednesday for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and to expound his views on the future of Europe.

BERLIN, Jan 18, 2006 (AFP) - French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin was due in Berlin Wednesday for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and to expound his views on the future of Europe.

After reaching agreement last month on the EU budget, the bloc's much battered draft constitution is returning to the agenda in European capitals and Merkel hopes to revive it following its rejection by French and Dutch voters last year.

In the afternoon Villepin is scheduled to address students at Berlin's Humboldt university on his views of the future of the 25-nation EU, before meeting Merkel in the evening for talks on bilateral, European and international issues.

During a visit here last week by French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy, a French diplomatic source said that France hopes to develop with Germany a common policy strategy for the coming months.

French President Jacques Chirac announced last month "ambitious proposals" for relaunching the European institutions.

Merkel also wants to break the institutional impasse, stressing Europe's social dimension and championing the damaged constitution which German deputies ratified without a popular referendum.

Villepin's visit comes the day before Franco-German economic talks, the first of their kind since last February, which will bring together new German finance minister Peer Steinbrueck and his French counterpart Thierry Breton.

Chirac and Merkel will hold talks next Monday at Versailles just outside Paris.

The talks will be part of the so-called Blaesheim process, under which French and German leaders have undertaken to see each other regularly for informal meetings.

Merkel will also inaugurate an exhibition entitled "Splendours of the Court of Saxony" at the palace of Versailles, Chirac's office said Monday.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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