Hollande, Merkel talk on phone after tense week

PARIS Sat Jun 16, 2012 12:13pm EDT

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel and France's President Francois Hollande (R) attend an informal EU leaders summit in Brussels May 23, 2012. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel and France's President Francois Hollande (R) attend an informal EU leaders summit in Brussels May 23, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Francois Lenoir

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PARIS (Reuters) - French President Francois Hollande and his German counterpart Angela Merkel discussed Greece's election and the euro zone's debt crisis by telephone on Saturday amid a deepening rift between Europe's top two economies over solutions to the crisis.

Hollande's office said the "constructive" and "fruitful" call was to prepare ground for next week's Group of 20 meeting in Mexico, which will focus on the crisis, and a June 28-29 summit where European leaders aim to agree on measures to tackle it.

The two leaders are likely to also have addressed what was seen as a public squabble in the past week, with the centre-right Chancellor criticizing France's economic performance and the Socialist Hollande snubbing Merkel by inviting German opposition leaders to talks at his presidential palace.

The bilateral tensions a month into Hollande's presidency come at a dangerous time, with Greece headed into an election on Sunday where a victory by a radical left party could drive the country out of the euro zone.

Hollande is also facing a crucial ballot on Sunday as the French vote in a second-round parliamentary election that he is banking on to give him a Socialist bloc majority in the lower parliamentary house, the National Assembly.

(Reporting by Catherine Bremer; Editing by John Stonestreet)

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