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Merkel, Cameron Bring Families Together In Castle Outside Berlin

posted 12 Apr 2013, 16:42 by Mpelembe   [ updated 12 Apr 2013, 16:42 ]

German Chancellor Angela Merkel receives British Prime Minister David Cameronfor a two-day visit to Germany at the government's guest house an hour north of Berlin.

MESEBERGGERMANY (APRIL 12, 2013) (REUTERS POOL) -  German Chancellor Angela Merkel hosted David Cameron and his wife and children at a castle outside Berlin on Friday (April12) in a rare family get-together that she may hope will create the right mood to heal a growing rift between Britain and Europe.

Cameron, who warned this week that British support for the EU was "wafer thin", will spend the weekend with Merkel and her husband Joachim Sauer at SchlossMeseberg northwest of Berlin accompanied by his wife Samantha and their three children.

German government spokesman Steffen Seibert was unable to recall any previous time that Merkel has hosted a leader's children. She and Sauer have no children together.

Merkel, 58, tends to keep her personal life private, rarely appearing with Sauer in public, though they were photographed in bathing suits on an Easter break in Italy.

Asked why Merkel had turned the talks into a family gathering, Seibert said she and her husband had got to know the Camerons when they stayed at the British prime minister's official country residence, Chequers, in 2011.

Seibert said the gathering demonstrated how tight "our friendship and partnership with Britain is."

The Camerons arrived on Friday evening and Merkel and Cameron will hold wide-ranging talks early on Saturday that will naturally include Europe, according to Seibert.

Cameron's desire to roll back European Union powers and his plans for a referendum on Britain staying in the bloc if he wins a new term in 2015 were "no surprise" to Berlin, according to Seibert.

Cameron said in an interview for several European media this week there was little support in Britain for an EU bureaucracy that he said "sometimes overreached itself" and needed reform.

Merkel's reaction to Cameron's speech in January setting out his plans on Europewas more restrained than that of some other EU leaders and she has been careful to stress that Britain is an important German ally, especially on free trade issues.

German lawmakers have long expressed frustration with Britain's semi-detached relationship with the EU, including Cameron's decision in 2009 to pull hisConservatives out of the centre-right bloc in the European Parliament to which Merkel's Christian Democrats belong.