( dpa )- A new political body for nations on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea will be open to any of the 27 European Union nations that want to join, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy agreed Monday.
Merkel and Sarkozy had been at odds for months over the "Mediterranean Union," with the Germans upset at being left out of what they perceived as a unilateral Paris project.
After dinner at a government mansion in Hanover, Sarkozy denied there had been any dispute.
"We are in agreement in principle and in detail," he said.
Merkel added, "We've done some good work."
Officials said the two leaders would propose at an EU summit next week that the Mediterranean Union be adopted as an extension of a lagging EU diplomatic initiative known as the Barcelona Process.
The new project would be officially launched at an EU summit on July 13-14 in Paris.
Sarkozy was paying a flying visit to attend the opening of the March 4-9 CeBIT computing trade fair, where France will this year hold "partner nation" status among 77 countries exhibiting software and digital equipment.
The two leaders' joint appearance at the evening gala had gained in importance after Sarkozy postponed a regular meeting this week with Merkel till June.
Merkel and Sarkozy also agreed to jointly propose EU plans to fight tax havens and to set up a working party to draft proposals on the automobile industry and preventing climate change.
Observers had earlier detected strain in the two leaders' relationship and some media suggested the Franco-German axis had become bogged down.