Merkel says ahead of Cameron talks UK must stay in Europe

BRUSSELS Wed Nov 7, 2012 5:49pm GMT

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (2nd L) addresses political groups at the European Parliament in Brussels November 7, 2012. REUTERS/Eric Vidal

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (2nd L) addresses political groups at the European Parliament in Brussels November 7, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Eric Vidal

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel told the European Parliament on Wednesday, shortly before she was due to visit Prime Minister David Cameron, that she wanted Britain to remain in the EU.

"I want a strong Great Britain inside the European Union. I cannot imagine a Europe without Britain," she said in reply to a question from a Eurosceptic British lawmaker, who urged her to tell Cameron that Britain should leave the EU.

"I believe you can be very happy on an island, but being alone in this world doesn't make you any happier," she said.

Merkel was scheduled to meet the British leader for a working dinner later on Wednesday to discuss a stand-off over the EU's medium-term budget and German irritation at Britain's growing disengagement with EU integration.

(Reporting by Claire Davenport and Angelika Stricker; Writing by Stephen Brown in Berlin)

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