Berlin seeks to dispel talk of discord with Paris

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman insisted Friday that a second EU summit on the eurozone's debt woes was not called due to differences with France.

Steffen Seibert said the EU gathering on October 26, announced late Thursday, four days before EU leaders are already scheduled to meet in Brussels, was down to the need to involve the German government.

"I want to clear the impression that it's due to divergences in position," Seibert told a regular government news briefing.

"Despite wide similarities in views" between Europeans on ways of fighting the debt crisis, he acknowledged that there was not yet an agreement on all the details.

The second summit has been organised primarily "because the government considers it indispensible that the Bundestag (lower house of parliament) is involved in an adequate way," he added.

Parliament's budgetary committee, which must approve any financial proposals on the eurozone bailout fund, "has not had the time to study everything in detail", he said.

If Merkel had left for the summit without the committee's backing "she would not have had a mandate" to sign any European deal, he added.

German deputies rejected a motion put forward by the opposition Green Party Friday, which would have required all members of the Bundestag -- and not just the budgetary committee -- to approve changes to the eurozone bailout fund.

Although the fund, the European Financial Stability Facility, was approved in its current form by German MPs last month, EU leaders are currently trying to decide on how to increase its firepower.

Vice-Chancellor Philipp Roesler earlier Friday acknowledged that Paris and Berlin were divided on a proposal to give the eurozone bailout fund a banking licence to enable it to borrow from the European Central Bank.

"Colleagues, friends and partners in France want that. But, for us as the federal government, as the coalition overall, that should not be done," he said in an interview on the German ZDF television channel.

© 2011 AFP

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