The first foreign trip of her third term as chancellor emphasized "the special importance of Franco-German relations", Xinhua quoted Merkel as saying at a news conference in the Elysee Palace after meeting Hollande.

Germany and France have already "worked together very closely in recent months" and "we can start now a new step", she said, adding that the two countries will hold a summit in February next year to deepen bilateral relations.

"We all want to let Europe step forward and make it a strong continent of the world," she said ahead of a European Union (EU) Summit due to take place on Thursday and Friday in Brussels, where European leaders will discuss a planned banking union and France's military mission in Africa.

Hollande congratulated Merkel on her re-election and the formation of the new German government.

"We have a common horizon, which should become a common agenda," he said.

"Because Europe needs the relationship between France and Germany, a relationship of trust, a relationship strong and a relationship open,” he added.

On Tuesday, Merkel was re-elected in a vote in Germany's Lower House of Parliament for a third term. Her coalition government will lead the country for the next four years.

(Agencies)

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