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Macron, Merkel to Talk in Berlin       04/19 06:15

   BERLIN (AP) -- French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in Berlin Thursday 
for talks with Angela Merkel aimed at winning support from the German 
chancellor for his ambitious reform plans for the European Union.

   The meeting also gives Merkel and Macron a last chance to discuss Europe's 
stance on the crisis in Syria and the fate of the nuclear deal with Iran before 
both leaders fly to Washington next week for separate talks with U.S. President 
Donald Trump.

   France and Germany were part of the six-nation group that negotiated the 
2015 deal to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons, and both countries are 
keen to prevent it from falling apart when Trump's May 12 deadline for major 
changes to the pact expires.

   On Syria, Berlin's decision not to join the U.S., Britain and France in 
attacking suspected chemical weapons sites last week highlighted Germany's 
hesitancy when it comes to military action abroad. Berlin has stressed the need 
for a diplomatic solution to the conflict that's seen more than 700,000 Syrians 
seek refuge in Germany at considerable political cost to Merkel, who insists 
giving them shelter has been the right thing to do.

   Macron's flying visit to Berlin starts at the unfinished Humboldt Forum, a 
museum that's being built on the site where the German Kaiser's palace stood 
until it was largely destroyed in World War II. German media have noted the 
symbolism of the two leaders touring a building site at a time when they are 
grappling with a much-needed reform of the European Union.

   While the two leaders agree on the need to step up protection of the EU's 
external borders and agree a common asylum policy, it's unclear how much 
backing Macron can expect from Germany for his plans to reform the bloc's 
financial structure.

   In their deal to form a new German government, Merkel's conservative party 
and its center-left partners agreed that Germany --- like France --- is 
prepared to pay more into the EU budget.

   But Berlin has been skeptical in its response so far to the possibility of a 
shared budget and Merkel is lukewarm about Macron's idea of a eurozone finance 


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