( AFP ) - Prime Minister Tony Blair will hold talks on Tuesday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel about resolving the impasse over the European Union constitution, her spokesman said on Friday.
"They will talk quite intensively about the latest developments with regard to the EU constitution," deputy government spokesman Thomas Steg told a press conference.
He welcomed comments by Blair published on Friday that Britain no longer needs to hold a referendum on a new EU treaty to replace an all-but-dead draft constitution.
The remark, made in an interview with a group of European newspapers, will likely be read as a U-turn by eurosceptic critics in the British government following a previous commitment to holding a popular vote on the treaty.
"Tony Blair has made clear that his government, that Britain takes a great interest in taking Europe forward. This statement attests to a great will to make joint progress," Steg said.
"It is to be welcomed unreservedly. We hope that this statement will also be useful to convince others who are still sceptical and that we will achieve a positive outcome in June," he said.
Steg was referring to plans by Merkel to persuade her fellow EU leaders to adopt a roadmap setting out the way forward on the constitution at a summit in Brussels in June which Blair will attend shortly before he is expected to leave office.
Germany holds the rotating presidency of the EU until the end of June and Merkel has made it her aim not only to foster agreement on a timetable for a new treaty to be adopted, but "also to make progress on the content" of the text, Steg said.