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Cameron And Hollande Meet In London

(c) Sky News 2012

David Cameron and Francois Hollande will seek to show they can set aside their differences and work together when they meet in London for the first time.

The two leaders know there will be a good deal of focus on what divides them as they convene in Downing Street this afternoon.

Their task will be to emphasise that they can unite on some of the biggest issues confronting their countries and Europe (Chicago Options: ^REURUSD - news) .

The two men take a very different approach to deficit reduction, with Mr Hollande imposing a punitive top rate of income tax that is unpalatable even to the Labour party here.

The French president also intends to maintain the pension age at 60, compared with his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy's proposed 62.

By comparison, David Cameron's coalition Government is talking about forcing people to work to their late 60s and has just slashed the top tax rate from 50p to 45p.

However, although they follow different policies, it is likely they will aim to show they are as one when it comes to the fundamental principle of setting out a clear plan and sticking to it.

Equally, while commentators tend to portray Mr Cameron and Mr Hollande as on opposing sides of the austerity/growth divide, this is not necessarily borne out.

On specific pro-growth measures for the Eurozonem the French President has found Mr Cameron to be a significant cheerleader and ally as he attempts to persuade the German Chancellor Angela Merkel to adopt a more flexible approach.

There will be more harmony on wider international issues such as the need for a strong, coordinated response to events in Syria.

However the French government's recently announced plan to hike taxation on second homes, which would affect thousands of Britons with houses in France, is the sort of move that could put a spanner in the works.

Mr Cameron also continues to oppose plans for a financial transactions tax that have the support of Mr Hollande and other European leaders.

On this issue, the British stance is so firm that the French President may consider it to be fruitless to pursue any further.

As ever, it will be interesting to watch the rapport between the two men at a press conference scheduled to take place after formal discussions have concluded.

Mr Cameron forged a warm relationship with the previous French president over military operaions in Libya, but found the unpredictable leader harder to work with on other - notably economic - issues.

In certain respects, Mr Hollande is viewed in Downing Street as a more straightforward interlocutor, and senior figures in Number 10 are eager to exploit the potential for a constructive relationship.