by Geir E Jansen
Wed Nov 23rd, 2005 at 04:47:40 PM EST
Following the historic vote and inauguration of Angela Merkel as the first female chancellor in Germany in the Bundestag Tuesday, the new German chancellor decided that Paris would be the destination for her first official visit to a foreign country.
Chancellor Merkel with this visit to France, wanted to confirm her commitment to the historic and special relationship between France and Germany, a relationship that has been crucial particularly in the development of, and to the integration-process within the European Union.
"I am confident we will manage to develop our cordial relationship," Merkel told a news conference after talks with French president Jacques Chirac, who greeted her with a kiss on the hand at his presidential Elysee Palace, Reuter's reports.
Chirac underlined the need for France and Germany to continue to be Europe's engine at a time when it faces major challenges, but without imposing their will on others.
Merkel's predecessors, Gerhard Schroeder and Helmut Kohl, began with visits to Paris and pledged to uphold the Franco-German axis that has underpinned post-war German foreign policy.
Merkel said the close relationship between Paris and Berlin was a "miracle", given a history of conflict including two world wars during the last century, Reuter’s reports further.
Pressing problems in Europe, such as the need for a quick deal on the next EU budget, mean the day-to-day partnership with France and the Union remains vital.
She was due to spend two hours in Paris before going to Brussels to meet European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and the heads of NATO and the European Parliament. She meets Prime Minister Tony Blair in London on Thursday.