hollande i merkel.jpg
Photograph: EPA/IAN LANGSDON

The refugee crisis and efforts to fight terrorism dominated a meeting between France's President Francois Hollande and Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel in the northeastern French city of Metz on Thursday.

The bilateral consultation between the long-standing allies comes amid widening differences in national interests, particularly in connection with the influx of refugees into Europe.

Unlike Germany, France did not move to open its doors to migrants last year. Hollande, after initially stalling and opposing a Europe-wide quota system advocated by Merkel, said France will commit to taking 30,000 refugees over two years.

Despite their differences, Hollande maintains that a common strategy between France and Germany enabled the European Union to reach an agreement with Ankara on a scheme to send thousands of asylum seekers back to Turkey.

"The fact remains: Europe can only move forward if France and Germany are on the same page," Hollande told mass circulation newspaper Bild ahead of the talks.

The meeting in Metz - a French city in the Lorraine region near the border with Germany - kicked off just before noon on Thursday, when Hollande received Merkel with military honours.

The leaders held talks with French Prime Minister Manuel Valls and were subsequently presented with a report about efforts to integrate refugees in both countries.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, premier of the German state of Saarland, on the border to France, presented the report, which outlines integration policies the country can adopt from one another and plans for a Franco-German integration committee.

Hollande and Merkel were set to hold a joint press conference at 1300 GMT.

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