* German Foreign Minister in London for talks on euro,
* Talks were agreed after divisive EU summit
* Syria, Iran also on the agenda
By Adrian Croft
LONDON, Dec 19 German Foreign Minister
Guido Westerwelle meets British ministers on Monday for talks on
the euro zone debt crisis and world trouble spots, in a sign
both powers want to heal the wounds opened by Britain's veto of
a new European Union treaty.
Westerwelle will hold talks in London with Foreign Secretary
William Hague and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.
"The talks will mostly be about Europe, but also about
international themes such as the worrying situation in Syria and
the Iranian nuclear programme," Germany's Foreign Ministry said.
Diplomatic sources said Westerwelle's meeting with Hague was
agreed after the Dec. 8-9 EU summit in Brussels when Britain
refused to join the other 26 countries in a fiscal union.
The talks are being held at Germany's request, suggesting
Berlin wants to hold out an olive branch to non-euro zone member
Britain by showing it remains a key EU partner on foreign policy
and other issues despite staying out of the new pact.
A German diplomatic source said Westerwelle's talks,
expected to be followed by a news conference with Hague, would
focus on "the euro, the question of how the EU should proceed
further (to tackle the crisis), what should be done."
"We should not expect anything dramatic but it's quite
helpful to keep open the dialogue. It's important to have
Britain as a partner," the source said.
Prime Minister David Cameron's veto dashed German Chancellor
Angela Merkel's hopes of tightening budget discipline through a
revised EU treaty, leaving EU states with the alternative of an
inter-governmental treaty -- France's favoured option.
Clegg, leader of the pro-European Liberal Democrats, junior
partner in Britain's Conservative-led coalition government, has
said he was "bitterly disappointed" by the summit outcome and
has pledged to work to build bridges with Britain's EU partners.
Germany and Britain, respectively the EU's biggest and
number three economies, have also clashed over a proposed
financial transactions tax and over the role the European
Central Bank could play in resolving the euro zone crisis.
Britain rejects German calls for a transaction tax, fearing
it would damage London as a global financial centre. Britain
believes the ECB should act as lender of last resort to tackle
the euro zone crisis, an idea ruled out by Merkel.
Britain and France have clashed over their economic
performance in the wake of the summit, with Clegg telling French
Prime Minister Francois Fillon on Friday criticism of the
British economy was unacceptable.
Merkel has been more conciliatory, saying London would
remain a crucial EU partner.
Britain will be allowed to follow discussions on the new
"fiscal compact" as an observer, a move that the German
diplomatic source said was in Berlin's interest.
Britain initially signalled it could oppose any steps to use
the European Commission and the European Court of Justice to
enforce the new pact. But Clegg told Saturday's Guardian
newspaper London would not try to stop other EU countries from
using the bloc's institutions.
Hague and Westerwelle are expected to discuss President
Bashar al-Assad's repression of protests in Syria, the Iranian
nuclear issue and the war in Afghanistan, as well as Libya,
Egypt, the Balkans and wider EU issues.
Britain and Germany are both members of the United Nations
Security Council at the moment -- Britain with a permanent seat
and Germany in the middle of a two-year elected term.
Both British and German diplomats at the U.N. have said a
new, beefed-up draft resolution on Syria presented to the
Security Council by Russia last week does not go far enough.
EU foreign ministers will discuss new sanctions on Iran's
financial, transport and energy sectors -- possibly including an
embargo on imports of Iranian oil -- when they meet in January.
The West suspects Iran of developing a nuclear weapon, but
Tehran insists its nuclear programme its peaceful.