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Merkel not irked at missing UK crisis talks

AFP · 5 Dec 2008, 17:02

Published: 05 Dec 2008 17:02 GMT+01:00

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German newspaper reports said that French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown were distancing themselves from Berlin because of frustration that Merkel was not doing more to boost the German economy.

But German government spokesman Thomas Steg rejected this, saying that the talks between Sarkozy and Brown was a bilateral meeting ahead of next week's summit of European leaders on December 11-12. Jose Manuel Barroso, European Commission president, was due to join Brown and Sarkozy later for talks afterwards with business leaders, Steg told a regular government news conference.

"Because Barroso was taking part in this, which shows that no one is being isolated ... the Commission president immediately phoned the chancellor and informer her about it," Steg said. "Because it is a bilateral meeting we never expected that the chancellor would take part." He added that Merkel had held talks in London with Brown recently when Sarkozy had not been present, and that all the "excitement" in the German papers was a "storm in a tea cup."

The talks between Brown and Sarkozy, who holds the current EU presidency, were a bilateral meeting to prepare for next week's summit of EU leaders on December 11-12, as were upcoming talks in Poland between Merkel and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, the spokesman said.

"Without Germany nothing can be done" in Europe, he said. "The chancellor is not isolated, Germany is not isolated." He also reiterated that Germany was doing its bit to boost the economy and that Merkel would defend the country's economic stimulus package at next week's summit of EU leaders.

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"In Brussels next week we expect that when it comes to intensive discussions and the chancellor has the opportunity to present and explain fully our package of measures ... there will be a lot of praise," Steg said.

"You can expect there to be great agreement and recognition for what Germany has very quickly put into practice" to boost its economy.

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