France's Macron meets Merkel Monday, French troops overseas soon after

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France's Macron meets Merkel Monday, French troops overseas soon after

English edition of Asharq Al-Awsat - the world's premier pan-Arab daily.

The French presidential plane was forced to turn back once after it was struck by lightning on its first attempt to leave Paris.

The German leader had welcomed Macron's resounding election win on Sunday, saying he "carries the hopes of millions of French people and also many in Germany and across Europe".

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will host Emmanuel Macron for talks in Berlin on Monday, on his first trip overseas as French president.

Macron had promised to meet Merkel on his first visit as president during the presidential race, in which he campaigned on a pro-EU platform.

Merkel yesterday praised the 39-year-old, who will be France's youngest-ever president, for the "courageous pro-European campaign" he waged successfully against far-right nationalist Marine Le Pen.

Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble on Thursday underlined common ground with Macron in Germany and France's bid to bolster the EU.

The Luxembourg-based ESM, operational since October 2012, is a bailout fund for eurozone countries. In a meeting with members of his campaign team on February 22, Macron told them that he was about to get an endorsement from Francois Bayrou, a centrist former three-time presidential candidate whose support helped boost Macron's campaign. Germany and France are the eurozone's two biggest economies.

While they came from "very different political families", Merkel said earlier yesterday, "I enjoyed working with Francois Hollande", with whom she "built up mutual trust" over his five years in office.

"Frankly, I don't know", Ferrand said Friday on BFM television. "And that's good, because if I knew I'd be obliged to lie to you".

Speculation surrounds a half-dozen names, some fairly well-known, others less so, but the fact that one in particular hasn't leaked from the president-elect's inner circle suggests either that Macron still hasn't made up his mind or that his entourage is particularly disciplined and loyal.

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