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New German Chancellor Visits Italy


German Chancellor Angela Merkel has made her first official visit to Italy since taking office last month. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi vowed to work for warmer relations with Germany.

The new German chancellor, Angela Merkel, arrived in Rome Monday on an official visit that was to last just a few hours. She met first with the Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi and then sat down for talks over dinner with the Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Speaking to reporters before their dinner, Mr. Berlusconi said he had rooted for Ms. Merkel in the recent German elections. The German chancellor leads a coalition government with former leader Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats.

Mr. Berlusconi said he had followed closely the issues in the vote and had been able to appreciate Ms. Merkel's vision and leadership, her ability to be very concrete on problems and reach pragmatic solutions.

He said with Ms. Merkel in power, there will be cooperation with Italy on foreign policy matters.

Mr. Berlusconi says together the EU can take up again a trans-Atlantic foreign policy with strength and put aside aside past differences, especially those over Iraq.

In her turn, the German Chancellor said she, too, was looking forward to strong bilateral relations with Italy and addressed issues that both countries would likely be focusing on.

Ms. Merkel says since the end of the Cold War, we are facing new challenges - such as the fight against terrorism, the collaboration on immigration and inner security. This, she says, means that we have to work together.

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