Macron, Scholz plaster over differences with smiles and a handshake

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PARIS, Oct 26 (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz met in Paris with smiles and a handshake on Wednesday, but ignored questions on their faltering relationship as they headed into the Elysee Palace.

Scholz flew into the French capital for a hastily scheduled working lunch to find common ground on differences shaking Europe’s two powerhouses after the French leader cancelled a joint cabinet meeting.

Moments before Scholz’s arrival, French government spokesman Olivier Veran downplayed any rifts, saying the Franco-German couple had always been able to overcome difficulties that arose from time to time.

“Today’s meeting reflects that this friendship remains alive,” Veran said.

But the number of issues on which France and Germany – the EU’s two richest and most influential members – are at odds over is growing, from the bloc’s defence strategy to its response to the energy crisis, relations with China and even fiscal policy.

The difficulties comes as the EU struggles to reach an agreement on whether to cap gas prices in response to Russia’s war in Ukraine.

(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon and Michel Rose Editing by William Maclean and Richard Lough)

French President Emmanuel Macron (L) welcomes Chancellor of Germany Olaf Scholz (R) at Elysee Palace before their work lunch in Paris, France, 26 October 2022. EPA-EFE/CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON

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