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Merkel visits France in first foreign trip after reelection

2013-12-19

PARIS, Dec. 18 (Xinhua) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel travelled to Paris on Wednesday to meet French President Francois Hollande after being reelected for a third term, with the aim of "starting now a new step" in relations between the two countries.

The first foreign trip of her third term as chancellor emphasized "the special importance of Franco-German relations," Merkel said at a news conference in the Elysee Palace after meeting with Hollande.

Germany and France have already "worked together very closely in recent months" and "we can start now a new step," she said, adding that the two countries will hold a summit in February next year to deepen bilateral relations.

"We all want to let Europe step forward and make it a strong continent of the world," she said ahead of a European Union (EU) summit due to take place Thursday and Friday in Brussels, where European leaders will discuss a planned banking union and France's military mission in Africa.

Hollande first congratulated Merkel on her reelection and the formation of the new German government.

"We have a common horizon, which should become a common agenda," he said, "because Europe needs the relationship between France and Germany, a relationship of trust, a relationship strong and a relationship open."

On Tuesday, Merkel was reelected in a vote in Germany's lower house of parliament for a third term. Her coalition government will lead the country for the next four years.

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