HIGHLIGHTS-Merkel and Hollande comments at news conference

PARIS Tue May 15, 2012 4:08pm EDT

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PARIS May 15 (Reuters) - Following are comments by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande at a news conference following their first meeting on Tuesday in Berlin.

FRANCOIS HOLLANDE

"We want to work together for the good of Europe and with all other countries."

"Like Mrs. Merkel, I want Greece to remain in the euro zone. We must allow the Greeks to find solutions."

"I hope that we can say to the Greeks that Europe is ready to add measures to help growth and support economic activity so that there is a return to growth in Greece at a time when it is in recession."

"On growth, the method that we agreed is putting all ideas and all proposals on the table and seeing what legal means exist to put them into effect."

"I said that I want growth to be not only a word but backed by tangible actions that are made a reality."

"I want to put growth at the heart of our debate."

"I said it during my election campaign and I say it again now as president that I want to renegotiate what was has been agreed to include a growth dimension."

"On the subject of growth, it's true that the word was in the budget treaty, but it was not really pronounced. Sure, there was an intention to hold working meetings. I am happy that the presidential campaign in France and the situation in Europe allowed us to put growth at the heart of our debtates."

"I am in favour of serious budget policy, I am in favour of meeting our (deficit) targets. But it's because I am in favour of serious budget policies that I am in favour of growth because if there is no growth then no matter what we do we will not meet our debt and deficit reduction targets."

ANGELA MERKEL

"We signed the fiscal compact in March. Now efforts will revolve around ... growth at the June summit and it will be very important that Germany and France present their ideas together at this summit and prepare closely together."

"I want to reiterate, and we agreed on this, that we want Greece to remain in the euro. We also know that the majority of the people in Greece see it that way."

"We think the memorandum has to be stuck to but, as I've said repeatedly in phone calls with the Greek politician Samaras and also with President Papademos, we want to do whatever we can do to help Greece structurally, with growth, in terms of organisation."

"And I believe we also agree that Greece belongs in the European Union, belongs in the euro group."

"We agreed that first of all there is an obligation to work together. We found common ground and the beginnings of differing points of views but that can be enriching, too."

"I'm not sure whether the public may see more divergence may be seen that actually exists."

"I always said that on the one side (there is) the fiscal compact, and on the other side we have worked and will work on the topic of growth in January, in March and in June.

"The question is who has what in mind. Growth is initially just a general term. Growth has to feed through to the people. And that's why I'm happy that we'll discuss different ideas on how to achieve growth. I'm not worried that there will be common ground and maybe there'll be the one or the other different opinion but ... I look forward to further cooperation."

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