Merkel, Hollande to hold anniversary talks

The leaders of France and Germany meet Saturday to mark a seminal 1962 speech by Charles de Gaulle, with the euro crisis and a proposed EADS-BAE merger also on the agenda.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman said the meeting in the southwestern city of Ludwigsburg, where De Gaulle addressed German youth in a key gesture of post-war reconciliation, was to be largely ceremonial.

But a few hot topics will nevertheless figure on the menu.

"The issue of EADS and BAE will certainly be addressed at the working lunch with President (Francois) Hollande," the spokesman, Steffen Seibert, told reporters Friday, referring to the mooted tie-up.

"There will of course be no decisions this Saturday and you should not go into the press conference expecting any."

The same applied to the issue of tighter checks on the European banking sector, a focus of eurozone crisis-fighting at the moment, Seibert said.

Governments have been cautious since the announcement last week that the British defence group BAE and European aerospace behemoth EADS are negotiating a merger.

The French presidency has said Paris and Berlin were waiting for the merger project to be clarified before passing judgement and taking decisions.

Germany has also taken a wait-and-see approach, with some officials arguing that the bigger company would create a potent challenger to US rival Boeing while others worry the fusion could end up costing good jobs.

The two groups have until October 10 to finalise the project or abandon it.

France and Germany hold major stakes in EADS, while the British state has a golden share in BAE that allows it to veto deals that it perceives not to be in the public interest.

Meanwhile Paris and Berlin have differing views on common EU banking supervision, seen as crucial to ensuring financial stability.

While France would like to hand the European Central Bank power to supervise all 6,000 eurozone banks from January, Germany would like it to tackle just big banks and is in little hurry, favouring thoroughness over speed.

Saturday's festivities are the latest in a series of events celebrating 50 years of partnership between the wartime foes.

Merkel and Hollande will meet at Ludwigsburg's Baroque palace, make brief remarks and then retire to a working lunch.

The leaders, who have struggled to keep their initial friction to a minimum since the president took office in May, are expected to hold a joint news conference at around 3:00 pm (1300 GMT).

  • Wednesday #sgroundup: More than 300 people missing after South Korean ferry sinks - coastguard 2 hours 27 minutes ago
    Wednesday #sgroundup: More than 300 people missing after South Korean ferry sinks - coastguard

    Here are the top trending stories of the day in case you missed them:

  • 2015 Chevrolet Trax small SUV rolls back to America 14 hours ago
    2015 Chevrolet Trax small SUV rolls back to America

    For the past two years, car shoppers from Acapulco to Winnipeg could wander into their Chevy dealers and kick the tires on a city-sized sport utility vehicle named the Trax — and about 90,000 have done so. Today, Chevy revealed the version of the Trax it will bring to the United States, for those less well-heeled buyers who want the shape of an SUV without the window sticker they usually carry.

  • Ford Transit Skyliner concept revives the ultra-luxury van 16 hours ago
    Ford Transit Skyliner concept revives the ultra-luxury van

    “Once you do stand-up, you don’t want to go back.” No, we’re not talking about comedy, but rather an emerging trend in luxury transport that’s bringing us ever taller, more capacious, more pimpdillyicious limousines. The quote came from a Ford designer, Tim Stoehr, predicting an increase in interest in limos based on big vans like the new Transit. Of course, these are nothing new; up-fitters have taken quite kindly to the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, and apparently Ford is chomping at the bit to get in on the action, too. So Ford enlisted the help of the largest Ford dealer in the world, Galpin Auto Sports in Van Nuys, Calif., to help design and build its first super-lux Transit concept, dubbed the Skyliner.

  • Amazon to release smartphone later this year: report
    Amazon to release smartphone later this year: report

    Amazon is preparing to release a smartphone in the second half of 2014, thrusting itself into a market already crowded with Apple and Samsung models, The Wall Street Journal reported. The company aims to announce its new product by the end of June and ship to customers by the end of September in time for the holidays, the Journal said in a Friday report, citing unnamed people briefed on the matter. Amazon, it said, hopes to differentiate its phone from other models with a screen that displays hologram-like three-dimensional images, which can be viewed without special glasses. Earlier this month the retailer unveiled a new media streaming device, Amazon Fire TV, which it touted as simplifying the experience of watching video online.

  • Supermodel Qi Qi is afraid of flying
    Supermodel Qi Qi is afraid of flying

    The supermodel said that she will take her daughter in a vacation but will try to avoid boarding a plane

  • One dead as S. Korea ferry with 476 passengers sinks
    One dead as S. Korea ferry with 476 passengers sinks

    South Korea's coastguard said Wednesday one person had been killed as it struggled to rescue 476 people -- mostly high school students -- aboard a ferry that ran aground and sank off the southern coast. "The ferry is almost completely submerged," Lee said, adding that a detachment of South Korean Navy SEALS were taking part in the rescue. Of the 450 passengers on board the ferry bound for the southern resort island of Jeju, 325 were students from a high school in Ansan, south of Seoul. The 6,825-tonne ferry, which had sailed out of the western port of Incheon on Tuesday evening, ran into trouble some 20 kilometres (13 miles) off the island of Byungpoong.