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PM to have Hollande EU talks over pub lunch

DAVID Cameron will today entertain France's Francois Hollande in an Oxfordshire country pub in the hope of persuading the socialist President to back his drive for reform of the European Union.

Yet on the eve of the UK-France summit in the Prime Minister's constituency, Mr Hollande's aides made clear that Mr Cameron's ambition to secure radical treaty changes to Britain's EU membership ahead of an in/out referendum in 2017 was impractical.

One senior adviser accepted treaty change might one day be needed for economic monetary union but stressed it was "very, very unlikely this will be compatible with the British political calendar".

It will follow the summit at RAF Brize Norton, which will focus on civilian nuclear power, space research and defence projects; the latter will see a £120m two-year feasibility study for a new generation of combat drones.

British officials sought to play down the differences between the two men over EU reform, emphasising how there was a growing consensus changes were needed and that the difference was over timing.

A potential diplomatic banana skin has been avoided after it was confirmed there would be no official roles for political wives or partners.

The invitation to a pub could be regarded as Mr Cameron trying to help portray Mr Hollande in a more friendly and less formal light.

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