French President Emmanuel Macron plans to travel to Berlin on Monday to meet with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz for a working dinner, according to three officials familiar with preparations for the trip, Politico reported.
The meeting, which depends on whether Scholz recovers from COVID, is timed on the historic date of October 3, the day of German reunification. The aim is to agree the positions of France and Germany ahead of the informal summit of EU leaders in Prague on Thursday and Friday, the publication writes.
The energy crisis, gas price caps, recent pipeline explosions in the Baltic Sea and new sanctions against Russia proposed by the European Commission on Wednesday are expected to be on the agenda.
The leaders of France and Germany also plan to discuss "support for Ukraine and Franco-German defense cooperation - a tense issue, since both France and Germany have faced criticism for not offering adequate military assistance to Kyiv and for failing to ensure a reliable autonomous European defense," notes edition.
Also on the agenda is the MidCat gas pipeline from the Iberian Peninsula to Northern Europe. The French government said on Wednesday it was reviewing whether to drop its objection to the completion of a gas and hydrogen pipeline.
Neither Berlin nor Paris officially confirmed the meeting due to Scholz's positive test for the coronavirus on Monday. However, a spokesman for Scholz told reporters on Monday that the chancellor is "very hopeful" that he will recover within a week, allowing him to take part in Monday's German reunification celebrations in Erfurt.
Scholz was originally scheduled to return to Berlin after the holidays to host Macron for a working lunch, likely to be held at Schloss Meseberg, a baroque castle north of Berlin that is used as a government guesthouse.
"Many will be watching to see if the meeting coincides with announcements of new weapons for Ukraine. Both leaders are under pressure to send battle tanks to Ukraine as part of an enhanced aid package. However, while Macron is expected to soon announce additional weapons for Kyiv, such as "Caesar" howitzers, according to officials, battle tanks are unlikely to be on the list," the article emphasizes.
"(The Ukrainians) have made several requests, including for Caesars," Macron told reporters in New York last week. "We have made deliveries, we will make more. There is other equipment."
Scholz emphasized on Wednesday in a telephone conversation with the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky that "Germany will not stop providing specific support to Ukraine in political, financial and humanitarian terms, as well as in the protection of its sovereignty and territorial integrity, including the supply of weapons," according to him representative
Scholz has more high-level meetings scheduled next week: he will host Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in Berlin on Tuesday for Germany-Dutch climate talks, before traveling to the northern Spanish city of La Coruña on Wednesday for consultations with the Spanish government and Germany.
On Thursday, Scholz will continue his journey to Prague for the first meeting of the "European Political Community" - a summit of the leaders of the EU and neighboring countries initiated by Macron. On Friday, EU leaders will gather in Prague for an informal summit of the European Council.