BERLIN - New French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel acknowledged differences on Tuesday over how to boost growth in recession-plagued Europe, but pledged to work together on a joint approach in time for a summit next month.
Hollande jetted to Berlin hours after his inauguration to meet Merkel for the first time, but arrived over an hour late after his plane was hit by lightning and he was forced to return briefly to Paris.
The meeting between the leaders of Europe's biggest economies was being closely watched after Hollande sharply criticized Merkel during his campaign for insisting on tough austerity in highly indebted euro countries.
He has vowed to shift Europe's focus back to growth and reopen a tough new set of budget rules that Merkel and other EU leaders agreed to adopt earlier this year, a step considered taboo in Berlin.
"I said it during my election campaign and I say it again now as president that I want to renegotiate what has been agreed to include a growth dimension," Hollande told a joint news conference with Merkel at her Chancellery in the German capital.