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Hollande and Merkel kick back at French-German soccer game before summit


France's President Francois Hollande welcomes German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, near Paris, before attending a friendly international football match between France and Germany , Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013. The match marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Elysee Treaty, which paved the way for friendly relations between two countries that had previously endured a long and bitter rivalry. (AP Photo/Patrick Kovarik, Pool) (The Associated Press)

Before they face off in Brussels, the leaders of Germany and France are watching their national teams go at it on the soccer field.

French President Francois Hollande greeted German Chancellor Angela Merkel outside the Stade de France on Wednesday before they headed inside to watch the "friendly" — and to set the scene for talks on Europe's contentious budget, the subject of this week's summit.

The first summit to decide how much to spend on everything from agriculture to infrastructure collapsed. Leaders from the 27 European Union countries will try again Thursday to find a compromise.

The casual locale appeared aimed at signaling that the leaders, who don't always see eye-to-eye, are growing closer.