German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she believes a stable partnership with Socialist French president-elect Francois Hollande is possible after she backed his rival Nicolas Sarkozy.

In answer to a journalist's question to that effect, the conservative leader said: "Yes, I think I can, because we know that... good Franco-German relations are quite simply very important for both countries."

The question was scripted for a weekly video-podcast issued by Ms Merkel's office ahead of a meeting between Mr Hollande and Ms Merkel on Tuesday.

Mr Hollande, who was elected on 6 May, will fly to Berlin the day of his inauguration after naming his prime minister.

The two leaders are expected to discuss the eurozone crisis and bilateral relations, a chancellery spokesman said.

The Socialist leader had previously promised that his first visit would be to the German capital, where Ms Merkel has said he would be welcomed with "open arms" despite divergent views on the European stability pact.

Ms Merkel's spokesman said yesterday that she "is sure that the traditionally close coordination with France will continue to be the foundation of their work together in Europe - to ensure prosperity, peace and democracy in the long run."

In an interview published by the daily Die Welt, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle also expressed confidence in an "excellent partnership" with Mr Hollande.

"It is not the first time that we will have governments of differing orientations," Mr Westerwelle said, recalling how Christian-Democrat Helmut Kohl and Socialist Francois Mitterrand negotiated terms for German unification in 1990.

France and Germany - Europe's biggest economies - have traditionally been seen as close allies and the motor of European unification.

However, ties have come under strain during the debt crisis, with Mr Sarkozy at first pushing for Germany to allow greater burden-sharing within the eurozone, before backing down and tacitly accepting Ms Merkel's leadership.

Mr Hollande campaigned on a pledge to renegotiate the eurozone's fiscal pact.

Both the German and French leaders have made conciliatory noises since Mr Hollande's election, but the meeting is expected to be tense, with Berlin already insisting the pact cannot be re-opened.

Bundesbank president Jens Weidmann, in an interview published today, flatly rejected the idea, saying: "It is clear that must be refused."

"There is a European custom that you keep to accords you have signed," he told the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

However, observers expect that some kind of compromise can be found, perhaps through a parallel treaty or annex to the pact that would include measures to favour growth alongside the previous deficit-cutting.

Even here, however, divisions would remain, with Mr Hollande favouring joint EU investment in major projects, and Ms Merkel calling for structural adjustments to - in particular - labour markets and pensions.

After the chancellor welcomes Mr Hollande with military honours the pair will hold a joint press conference, to be followed by a working dinner.