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Germany

Wulff stresses cooperation at end of European tour

Christian Wulff completed his tour of European capitals in Vienna and Rome on Wednesday. The newly-elected German president emphasized the importance of partnership between European states.

Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi with German president Christian Wulff at Chigi Palace in Rome on Wednesday

Wulff's meeting with Berlusconi, right, rounded off the president's European trip

German President Christian Wulff concluded meetings with the Austrian and Italian heads of state on Wednesday, pledging greater European cooperation.

As part of a tour of European capitals, the newly-elected German head of state went to Vienna to meet Austrian President Heinz Fischer in the morning. He then traveled to Rome to meet Italian President Giorgio Napolitano and later Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Wulff used the occasion of his first official visit to Austria to talk about the union of German-speaking countries, particularly regarding integration policies. He and Fischer agreed to focus on the incorporation of migrants in a meeting with their counterparts from Liechtenstein, Luxembourg and Switzerland, to take place later in the year.

"Deepening cooperation on this topic is something that is very close to my heart," Wulff told German news agency dpa.

Germany has increasingly been lauded for its success in incorporating ethnic minorities, with particular reference to its multicultural national soccer side. "This team is Germany's best ambassador on the world stage," Wulff said on Sunday at the end of the World Cup in South Africa.

European cohesion needed

German president Christian Wulff and his Austrian counterpart Heinz Fischer in the offices of the Federal President of Vienna on Wednesday

Wulff and Fischer, right, plan to maintain historically important Austro-German ties

Wulff was welcomed to Giorgio Napolitano's Quirinale Palace in Rome later on Wednesday. The two presidents called on the European Union to show greater cohesion when tackling global issues during a joint press conference after their meeting.

"Europe runs the risk of losing political weight, unless we are able to speak with one voice and take unanimous decisions," Wulff told dpa.

Off to a flying start

On Tuesday, the German president pledged closer Polish-German partnership after meeting Polish president-elect Bronislaw Komorowski and Prime Minister Donald Tusk in Warsaw.

Wulff made his first trip abroad as president last Wednesday, meeting French President Nicolas Sarzoky in Paris and touring the European Parliament in Strasbourg. He had talks with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso in Brussels the following day.

Wulff will begin a 10-day holiday on Thursday, spending part of his time off in Germany and part abroad.

The former state premier of Lower Saxony was sworn in as president on July 2.

Author: Thomas Sheldrick (dpa/AFP)
Editor: Martin Kuebler

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