Sarkozy, Merkel begin Paris meeting on euro crisis plan

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French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel began a meeting in Paris on Monday to thrash out a plan to save the euro at the start of a pivotal week for the single currency.

The French president welcomed his German counterpart at the presidential palace and, after briefly posing for the cameras, the two entered for the crucial talks, an AFP reporter said.

The two are to hold a press conference after the negotiations, which come ahead of an EU summit in Brussels on Thursday.

Merkel and Sarkozy have vowed to propose EU treaty changes to create what Merkel has dubbed a "European fiscal union with strict rules" and Sarkozy calls "true economic government".

While Sarkozy supports stricter budget discipline, and punishment for states that do not fall in line, he is against bolstering the role of the European Commission or increased federalism, as sought by Germany.

Whatever proposals emerge from the talks must be seen as a credible guarantee that eurozone governments will at last bring their deficits under control and thereby satisfy restive markets.

© 2011 AFP

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