French leader plans Berlin trip after inauguration

May 10, 2012 - 2:16 PM

PARIS (AP) — The office of French President-elect Francois Hollande says he plans to travel to Berlin within hours of his inauguration next week to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Their meeting is likely to be closely watched. Hollande, a Socialist, and the conservative Merkel have divergent ideas about how to help revive a lackluster European economy and cut high state debts across the continent.

Hollande is being inaugurated Tuesday and is expected to leave for Berlin that afternoon. He has long said his first trip abroad would be in Germany — which with France is a pillar of the European Union.

Earlier Thursday, French Prime Minister Francois Fillon's government resigned in a letter to outgoing President Nicolas Sarkozy, a big, yet symbolic step ahead of Hollande's accession to power.