'Angela Merkel has hailed a new Franco-German friendship treaty as being a step towards the creation of a future joint European army.
The German Chancellor said the pact, inked in the ancient western German city of Aachen today, aims to build a 'common military culture' between the two countries.
In a speech during the ceremony, Merkel insisted the treaty 'contributes to the creation of a European army'.
The new accord was signed exactly 56 years after the 1963 Elysee Treaty, which set the tone for the two countries' close relationship following centuries of conflict that ended with World War II.
Both French President Emmanuel Macron and Merkel have pushed the idea of a joint European Army for the bloc that would be part of the wider NATO alliance.
US President Donald Trump late last year mocked both European powers by tweeting that 'it was Germany in World Wars One & Two - How did that work out for France?'
Merkel in her speech also said that, as France and Germany seek closer political, economic and defence integration, they should also work on a 'joint military industry'.
And she warned against rising nationalism in Europe as she called for a revival of cross-border cooperation.
'Populism and nationalism are strengthening in all of our countries,' Merkel told French, German and European officials gathered in Aachen's town hall.
Citing Britain's departure from the European Union and the growing protectionist tendencies around the world, Merkel noted that international cooperation is going through a rocky period.'
Read more: Merkel boasts Germany and France have taken the first steps towards 'a European ARMY' after signing friendship treaty with Macron
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