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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chirac in First Talks With Kohl

combined reports


STRASBOURG, France -- French President Jacques Chirac met German Chancellor Helmut Kohl on Thursday to reaffirm his commitment to the Franco-German partnership at the heart of the European Union while in Paris a new, pro-European Cabinet was officially named.


Chirac, who greeted Kohl at the government prefect's office in Strasbourg, was expected to reassert France's attachment to currency stability in Europe after market doubts about his resolve sent the franc tumbling against the Deutsche mark.


Using body language to demonstrate harmony, the two conservative politicians smiled broadly and shook hands several times on the steps of the ornate 1870 building at the start of the meeting in Strasbourg, home of the European Parliament.


At a meeting earlier with fellow Christian Democrats at the European Parliament, Kohl said the new French president was an old friend and he believed they saw eye-to-eye on the importance of continuing European integration.


"The most important task is to pursue the process of European integration. That's the aim of our meeting with Jacques Chirac and I think I am in agreement with him on this point," participants quoted Kohl as saying.


He said the priorities of an EU summit which Chirac is to chair in the French Riviera resort of Cannes at the end of June were "continuing the policy of monetary stability" and studying new possibilities for cooperation with central and eastern Europe.


On Wednesday, Chirac's office had to crush suggestions he might propose a shake-up of the European Union's currency grid, perhaps accepting a weaker franc to help combat unemployment. The rumors drove the franc down against the mark.


French and German officials insisted the Franco-German axis would remain the motor of Europe and the make-up of the new Cabinet lent weight to their comments.


Alain Jupp?, the former foreign minister named prime minister yesterday is a pro-European.


Pro-Maastricht liberal Herve de Charette, 56, a close ally of ex-president Valery Giscard d'Estaing, was named to replace Jupp? as foreign minister and another pro-European liberal, Charles Millon, 49, was given the defense ministry.


Among other appointments, ultra-liberal free-marketeer Alain Madelin, 49, was given a powerful ministry in charge of economics and finance with control over the budget.


Chirac loyalist Jacques Toubon, 53, was made justice minister and ranked number two in the government, and Gaullist Jean-Louis Debre, 50, son of former prime minister Michel Debre, was appointed interior minister.


Centrist Jacques Barrot will spearhead Chirac's promised battle against unemployment as minister of labor, social dialogue and participation.


The cabinet is packed with a record proportion of women -- 12 out of 42 -- with the most senior position going to Elisabeth Hubert, 38, who was put in charge of public health and health insurance.


The government included several new ministries, including the Ministry for Solidarity among the Generations, apparently in charge of family affairs and pensions, a Ministry of Social Integration and the Fight against Poverty, and the Ministry for Administrative Reform, Decentralization and Citizenship.


Among discarded Balladur heavyweights were Interior Minister Charles Pasqua, Defense Minister Fran?ois Leotard and Social Affairs Minister Simone Veil.


The choice of Strasbourg for the meeting with Kohl was appropriate. The city was annexed by Germany after a war in 1871, then reclaimed by France after World War I. Hitler seized it and the surrounding provinces of Alsace and Lorraine in 1940 before they returned to France with the allied victory in World War II.