PARIS/BERLIN - French President Nicolas Sarkozy will press German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday to let the European Central Bank act decisively to rescue the euro zone from a deepening sovereign debt crisis now hitting Germany.
French officials hope Berlin will relent in its opposition to a greater crisis-fighting role for the ECB after Germany itself suffered a failed bond auction on Wednesday, highlighting how investors are now shunning even Europe's safest haven.
"There is urgency (for ECB intervention). We will talk about it today in Strasbourg," French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said on France Inter radio, hours before the French, German and Italian leaders were due to meet in the eastern French city.
"I think and hope that the thinking will evolve and that the ECB should play an essential role to re-establish confidence," Juppe said.
Sarkozy took a step towards Merkel this week by agreeing to amend the European Union's treaty to permit intrusive powers to change national budgets in euro area countries that go off the rails. But the German leader has so far maintained her line that the treaty forbids the ECB from acting as lender of last resort to buy euro zone bonds.