France, Germany agree to coordinate foreign policy more closely

PARIS (Reuters) - The foreign ministers of France and Germany agreed on Tuesday a closer coordination of foreign policy, including making joint trips abroad and ensuring they go into European Union meetings with a common line.

Cooperation between Paris and Berlin was largely on hold during 2013 ahead of national elections in Germany which saw the re-election of Angela Merkel as head of a coalition of her conservatives with the left-leaning Social Democrats (SPD).

"We must take advantage of the situation: France and Germany both have three years ahead of them without any national elections," France's Mr Laurent Fabius said after talks with German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

"That gives us a timeframe we want to exploit to give a new impulse to Franco-German cooperation," he told reporters.

Mr Steinmeier told reporters the two would undertake a first joint trip to Moldova and Georgia, two countries on the EU's eastern borders with which the bloc is fostering ties in areas such as the energy sector.

Paris and Berlin would also look to coordinate on crisis prevention activities, the two said in a joint statement. Mr Fabius listed wider possible cooperation in tackling climate change, defence policy and economic and social policy.

Germany and United Nations Security Council veto-holder France do not always see eye-to-eye on foreign policy. For example, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives are largely sceptical of Turkey's prospects of joining the EU, France under the Socialist President Francois Hollande has been softening its stance towards Ankara.

The Fabius-Steinmeier meeting came after Mr Hollande made a surprise announcement last week plans for a Franco-German energy joint venture. It later emerged he was talking about cooperation in renewable energy.

The two countries are due to hold one of their regular joint French-German cabinet meetings on Feb 19 in Paris.

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