British PM Cameron to visit Paris, Berlin as first visits abroad

British PM Cameron will travel to Paris and Berlin this week on his first visits abroad in his new role, officials said.

British PM Cameron to visit Paris, Berlin as first visits abroad


British Prime Minister David Cameron will travel to Paris and Berlin this week on his first visits abroad in his new role, officials said on Tuesday.

Cameron, leader of the centre-right Conservatives, took office a week ago. He heads a coalition with the smaller, centre-left Liberal Democrats.

The Conservatives are sceptical about the European Union and have a history of tense relations with EU enthusiasts France and Germany, but Cameron has insisted he wanted good, constructive ties with European partners.

He will meet French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Thursday and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday. Cameron has already been invited to Washington by U.S. President Barack Obama.

The talks with Merkel will be "essentially introductory" and have a broad agenda, covering the global economy, approach to the EU and climate change, a British government source said.

One unknown quantity is whether the presence of Liberal Democrats in Britain's new coalition government will help relations with European allies. Cameron's junior partners are much more enthusiastic about Europe than his own party.

Cameron's trip will come just after Britain was defeated, mainly by France and Germany, in an EU negotiation over the regulation of hedge funds. EU finance ministers backed stricter controls on Tuesday despite objections from London, which is home to most of Europe's hedge funds.

The Conservatives are part of the same broad political family as Sarkozy's and Merkel's parties, but Cameron caused consternation last year when he withdrew his party from the mainstream centre-right group in the European parliament.

Cameron said he made the decision because the group, which includes legislators from Sarkozy's and Merkel's parties, favoured closer European integration. Instead, his Conservatives joined up with a much smaller group of Euro-sceptic parties.

Sarkozy has said publicly that he was disappointed with Cameron's choice, although he paid a friendly visit to the Conservative leader, then in opposition, during his last official visit to London in March.

Merkel was perceived to have snubbed Cameron when she visited Britain in April. She held talks with the then prime minister, Gordon Brown, but unlike Sarkozy she did not find time to see Cameron.

Merkel's office said in a statement that Cameron would be greeted in Berlin on Friday with military honours and the two leaders would hold a joint news conference at 3 p.m. (1300 GMT).

"The talks will focus on current financial and economic questions as well as bilateral, European and international subjects," the statement said.

Reuters

Last Mod: 19 Mayıs 2010, 08:29
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