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France’s new Socialist govt gets down to work

PARIS (AP) – Members of France’s new Socialist-led government are taking office and preparing for their first Cabinet meeting with President Francois Hollande.

New Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, a moderate longtime legislator valued for his knowledge of Germany, named the Cabinet on Wednesday night. The ministers are taking office Thursday in ceremonies bidding farewell to their conservative counterparts who served under former President Nicolas Sarkozy.

The new Cabinet meets later Thursday. It is half-male, half-female and includes allies, veterans and some new faces.

Neither France’s new president nor the prime minister has previous experience in government. But Ayrault denied this would be a handicap.

After the Cabinet meeting, Hollande heads off on a trip to the United States to meet President Barack Obama and attend G-8 and NATO summits.

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