Hollande, Merkel Seek United Front Before Summit
06/27/2012| 03:15pm US/Eastern
PARIS--French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel stood shoulder to shoulder Wednesday in an attempt to show a untied front, saying they must find ways of strengthening the economic and monetary union of Europe and members of the union must be ready to help one another.
The two leaders were speaking in Paris as Ms. Merkel visited the socialist president for the first time since his election in May. The meeting comes ahead of a crucial summit of European leaders in Brussels Thursday and Friday, where the euro zone is tasked with finding ways to strengthen its union and reassure markets in a bid to put an end to a crisis sending shock waves through the world's economy.
Mr. Hollande and Ms. Merkel, the leaders of the euro zone's two largest economies, have diverged on some key issues, in particular Mr. Hollande's push for mutualization of debt with so-called euro bonds.
"The situation is serious. We must construct a the strong, stable Europe of tomorrow," Ms. Merkel said. "We need more Europe, a Europe that works as the markets wants, and a Europe in which members of the union help one another."
Mr. Hollande also stressed the importance of making significant progress at the two-day summit. He put more emphasis on the need for solidarity, although acknowledging the necessity of integration, which suggests more centralized control over currently national policies.
"We both want to deepen the economic and monetary union, and later the political union, to get solidarity. As much integration as necessary, as much solidarity as possible," Mr. Hollande said.
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