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French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been confronted with firm denials from Berlin after claiming that Germany like France is planning to clear out Roma camps.

Sarkozy said that German Chancellor Angela Merkel had outlined the proposals at the European Union summit in Brussels on Thursday.

“Madame Merkel told me of her wish to clear out encampments in the coming weeks.”

But Germany’s foreign minister Guido Westerwelle flatly denied that such a conversation took place, saying that there were no Roma camps in Germany.

“Chancellor Merkel told me personally that such talks with such content did not take place. I can only think of a misunderstanding.”

French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner, meanwhile, has been seeking to play down talk of a violent row between European Commission President José Manuel Barroso and Sarkozy at the summit, describing their exchanges as “lively and sincere”.

“You see diplomatic incidents everywhere,” he told journalists.

France has attracted international criticism for a repatriation policy targeting Roma migrants.

In the Parisian suburb of Choisy-le-Roi, a communist-led local authority has opened up a special camp to welcome families threatened with expulsion.

Mayor Daniel Davisse said that many had been settled in France for almost 10 years.

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