Senior Merkel ally says "very worried" about France: paper

BERLIN Wed Jul 24, 2013 3:55am EDT

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BERLIN (Reuters) - A leader of Germany's junior coalition party, the Free Democrats (FDP), has said he is very concerned about France and warned of severe consequences if the French economy does not recover.

Rainer Bruederle, who is heading the FDP's campaign for September's federal election, told Handelsblatt daily in an interview the French government's decision to raise taxes was "fundamentally wrong".

"I'm very worried about France," Bruederle told the paper.

"The crisis in other states is somehow bearable, but if France doesn't get back on its feet, that would be tragic... We can't manage without France," Bruederle, a former economy minister, said.

France is under pressure from its euro zone neighbors to deliver on promised reforms to boost competitiveness and cut spending, and Socialist President Francois Hollande has promised to tackle the country's indebted pension system.

The euro zone's second-largest economy, which fell into a shallow recession in the first quarter of the year, lost the last of its major AAA ratings earlier this month in a blow to Hollande as he struggles to kick-start the economy.

(Reporting by Alexandra Hudson; Editing by Alistair Lyon)

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