Sarkozy welcomes Merkel for eurozone crisis talks

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President Nicolas Sarkozy of France welcomed Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel to the Elysee Palace in Paris on Tuesday for a summit on the eurozone debt crisis.

The leaders of the single currency bloc's two biggest economies were to hold two hours of talks followed by a keenly awaited news conference, with markets anxious for signs they have a plan to restore stability in the 17-nation eurozone.

Ahead of the meeting officials from both sides strove to drive down expectations of a major breakthrough, insisting in particular that the pair would not discuss pooling eurozone debt by issuing joint "eurobonds".

But traders are still keenly awaiting the result of the summit, and stock markets in London, Paris, Frankfurt, Madrid and Milan were down sharply on Tuesday after figures revealed a slowdown in German and eurozone growth.

© 2011 AFP

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