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Merkel refrained from outright criticism of Trump in her comments to the newspaper, but noted that the US has withdrawn from multilateral agreements and imposed new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, including from Europe.

Both parties campaigned on a policy platform that was characteristically hostile toward the European Union and the euro.

Her proposed fixes include the completion of a long-sought banking union, a common European investment budget, and a European Monetary Fund (EMF) that would be developed from the bloc's existing bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM).

In her words, cohesiveness among currency block members is important, "but solidarity between European partners should not lead to a debt union but help its members to help themselves".

"I will approach the new Italian government openly and work with it instead of speculating about its intentions", Merkel told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.

The conservative chancellor was also asked how far she was willing to go in helping French President Emmanuel Macron realise his vision of more solidarity in the euro zone. The ECB issued a statement saying the European treaties would not allow for such a move in the first place.

She also said the EMF should be able to assess the debt sustainability of member states and "the instruments needed to restore this if necessary" - a nod to debt restructuring, which France opposes. But Andrea Nahles, leader of the center-left Social Democrats in the ruling coalition, told the ARD public broadcaster Ms. Merkel's remarks were "very pleasing" with "a totally new tone".

Merkel also backs the step-by-step introduction of a euro zone investment budget in the low double-digit billions of euros. "In the future we will have to react to the challenges that we are faced with", she said. Conte, a little-known 53-year-old law professor, was sworn in on Friday, ending three months of political deadlock in the wake of inconclusive March 4 elections.


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