Merkel gives new push for eurozone reforms ahead of European Union summit

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The German chancellor is famously careful and deliberate when acting on issues, but she was criticised by members of her own government for not speaking out in support of Macron sooner.

She says Germany has an interest in safeguarding Europe's ability to act and making its voice heard, at a time when the global order is changing, including the role of the United States.

The EU has been under pressure to show unity after US President Donald Trump's recent moves such as pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal and imposing tariffs on European steel and aluminium exports, according to Reuters.

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"I will approach the new Italian government openly and work with it instead of speculating about its intentions", Merkel told the paper in an interview published on Sunday.

Macron has ambitious plans for European reforms but he can not go it alone, and the strength of the Berlin-Paris axis is an important gauge for how well things are going in Europe. "Italy is destroying itself - and dragging down Europe with it", the headline read.

Merkel made the remarks in an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung when asked about a media report that the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement and far-right League had planned to ask the European Central Bank to forgive 250 billion euros ($296 billion) of Italian debt.

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"However, such an intervention force with a common military-strategic culture must fit into the structure of defense cooperation", she added. There also needs to be common standards for asylum in Europe, Merkel said, and a unified external border control, which will be operated by Frontex.

Also Sunday, Germany's president asked gays for forgiveness for decades of suffering and injustice they endured as a result of repressive laws in Germany in the Nazi era and after World War II.

The dpa news agency quoted Steinmeier as saying that the harsh treatment continued in the post-war era, in both parts of a then-divided Germany, where homosexuality for years remained a criminal offense.

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