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Macron and Merkel in talks over European defence and US relations

AFP
AFP - [email protected]
Macron and Merkel in talks over European defence and US relations
Macron and Merkel will talk via video link on Friday. Photo: AFP

French leader Emmanuel Macron and his German counterpart Angela Merkel hold talks on Friday on European defence and the early moves of US President Joe Biden to rekindle close transatlantic ties.

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The video conference will be an opportunity for the two leaders to discuss their visions of future ties with Washington.

Macron is a leading proponent of increased European autonomy - which means boosting EU military capacities in particular - while Germany has traditionally been happy to rely on the US and the NATO military alliance for security.

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Ex-president Donald Trump ended this decades-long understanding by assailing Berlin for failing to pay enough into NATO and ordering cuts to the number of US troops in Germany.

The talks on Friday will cover all issues associated with "the strengthening of European sovereignty", a French presidency official said, meaning slow-moving common defence projects such as a new fighter jet and a tank will be on the table.

"They will discuss issues around European defence in particular... as well transatlantic and international questions," the official added.

The leaders will hold an online press conference at 1500 GMT where they are also likely to face questions about the European Union's faltering Covid-19 vaccine procurement programme.

After four years of Trump's norm-shredding presidency, Biden announced Thursday that "diplomacy is back" under his administration, which has signalled a clear recommitment to its traditional allies in Europe.

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