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Merkel meets Cameron over EU budget differences

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has met with British Prime Minister David Cameron to discuss the European Union's new budget plan. Cameron is hesitant to approve increased funds, saying Europe must live within its means.

Merkel met with Cameron for a working dinner at Number 10 Downing Street in London on Wednesday evening, after addressing the European Parliament in Brussels earlier in the day.

Negotiating the EU's 1 trillion euro ($1.28 trillion) budget was the priority issue for the two, with a Downing Street spokesman saying they "agreed on the importance of the EU demonstrating that it responds to public opinion, especially in difficult economic times."

Britain's threats to veto the current plan have fueled concerns that the country is moving away from the 27-member EU.

'Ludicrous' budget increase

Cameron had earlier described the EU's plan to increase its budget as "ludicrous," and has threatened to veto any plan not in his country's interests at the budget summit later this month.

"We are both believers that European countries have to live within their means, as does the European Union," said Cameron.

The prime minister has been pushing for a freeze on the trillion-euro, seven year budget.

"I have always wanted at best a cut, at worst a freeze," he said before the meeting. "I feel I am in there fighting for Europe's taxpayers, particularly British taxpayers."

Cameron, who is under pressure from members of his own Conservative party to demand a budget freeze, said he was planning on making a "very robust and strong argument" for a deal that is in Britain's interests.

Merkel seeks unity

Merkel said that because Britain and Germany are both net contributors to the EU, the two share similarities.

"We will not complete negotiations tonight but we want to do this in the spirit of partnership and friendship in order to focus our interests," said Merkel.

Germany's push for greater EU unification to fight the eurozone debt crisis has been unpopular with many in Britain, who see the organization as increasingly intrusive and costly.

"Despite differences that we have, it is very important for me that the UK and Germany work together," said Merkel.

dr/jr (AFP, dpa, Reuters)