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Romania leaders spar over who should go to EU summits

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(BUCHAREST) - Romania's centre-right president and the new left-wing prime minister locked horns Tuesday over who should attend EU summits, with a move by parliament failing to defuse the row.

Parliament adopted a statement recommending that Prime Minister Victor Ponta attend EU meetings on economic, social and fiscal issues while President Traian Basescu should go to summits devoted to security and foreign affairs.

But Basescu immediately rejected parliament's move, telling a press conference "it violates the Constitution and has no legal value", though adding that he was ready to discuss the issue with the premier.

The centre-right president, who has never missed an EU summit since Romania joined the bloc in 2007, will notably stay home when the leaders meet on June 28 in Brussels at a summit devoted to the eurozone debt crisis.

Ponta, who has been prime minister since the toppling of the centre-right coalition last month, said he did not seek to antagonise Basescu, but would would no longer accept the president's "monopoly" of attending EU meetings.

Similar spats over EU summits have occurred between rival leaders in France and Poland.

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