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Germany

Merkel Calls European Meeting on Financial Crisis

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will call a meeting of the European members of the Group of 20 industrialized nations in Berlin later this month to discuss joint strategies on dealing with the financial crisis.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy

Both leaders are reported to be initiating new discussion rounds

Merkel's French counterpart, Nicolas Sarkozy, is also said to be mulling an extraordinary meeting to discuss the crisis, according to press reports.

Although Merkel did not announce an exact date, she wants representatives of Europe's G20 members -- Britain, France, Italy, Turkey and the European Union -- to gather in the German capital ahead of the G20 summit on April 2 in London. She announced her plans in her weekend video address.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel gestures while making an address at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Friday Jan 30, 2009.

Prevention is better than a cure, says Merkel

Merkel is seeking to improve financial transparency and has called for stricter supervision of the global finance industry. At the World Economic Forum in Davos on Friday, she called for an international economic body to be set up, charged with the task of preventing rather than reacting to crises.

"This may even lead to a UN Economic Council, just as the (UN) Security Council was created after the Second World War," she said.

Sarkozy's office denies report of extra meeting

At the same time, the French daily Le Monde reported in its Sunday edition that Sarkozy is calling for an extraordinary meeting of eurozone countries. Sarkozy chaired the EU until Dec. 31, 2008, when the Czech Republic took over the rotating presidency. The report in Le Monde suggests that the French administration finds the Czech presidency "too passive, just like the European Commission, which could be a little more imaginative."

A French presidency spokesman has denied the newspaper's report, telling Reuters news agency that an emergency eurozone meeting "is not on the agenda" of the president.

The issue is likely to be addressed during a scheduled television appearance by Sarkozy on Thursday, and discussed in detail when he meets Merkel on Saturday for an annual security conference in Munich.

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