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Tuesday, 12 June, 2001, 17:53 GMT 18:53 UK
France and Germany united on expansion
President Chirac and Chancellor Schroeder
All smiles, as differences were set aside
By Rob Broomby in Berlin

The leaders of Germany and France have wound up a series of high-level consultations in the south-west German town of Freiburg, with a strong declaration in support of European expansion.

The statement by French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder comes despite a recent vote by Ireland rejecting the Nice Treaty, which paves the way for new European members.

It was a day of ceremonial gestures.

The French and German leaders postponed their disagreement over the future shape of Europe.

Irish no campaigner
The Irish no vote was a major setback to treaty
Instead, in the politest terms, they increased the pressure on US President George W Bush over his rejection of the Kyoto protocol on climate change and on the controversial missile defence shield.

Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said they would defend the Kyoto process because it was politically right, and he called on Europe to remain united on the issue.

On the Irish vote rejecting the Treaty of Nice and EU expansion, he said the process was irreversible, and the treaty would not be revised.

But in a joint document dealing with missile defence came a veiled warning to the US not to mess with the non-proliferation treaty which, it said, should be reinforced.

On UK membership of the euro, the German leader declined to offer comment - advice, he said, is often taken as criticism.

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See also:

08 Jun 01 | Europe
Ireland rejects EU expansion
11 Jun 01 | Europe
EU 'to proceed with enlargement'
18 May 01 | Europe
Schroeder's EU plans explained
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