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German chancellor 'optimistic' about forming coalition

2 min

Berlin (AFP)

Chancellor Angela Merkel voiced optimism Sunday as she headed into talks with Germany's second biggest party on forming a government, saying that she believed a deal could be forged.

"I think that it can be done. We will work very swiftly and very intensively," she told journalists as she arrived at the Social Democrats' headquarters for the first in a week of exploratory meetings with the centre-left party.

"I am going into these talks with optimism. At the same time it is clear to me that we will have an enormous piece of work in front of us over the next few days but we are willing to take it on and to bring a good result," she said.

Merkel is battling to form a government more than three months after general elections handed her a win but without a majority.

The week of meetings between Merkel's CDU, her Bavarian allies CSU and the Social Democrats (SPD) will examine whether both sides have enough common ground to begin formal coalition negotiations towards a new government by March or April.

But the talks are not without pitfalls -- including tricky questions surrounding the more than a million asylum seekers who have arrived in Germany since 2015.

Merkel's Bavarian allies CSU in particular are championing a tougher stance on immigration -- including demands that are unpalatable to the SPD.

Nevertheless, CSU chief Horst Seehofer too voiced determination at finding a deal with the SPD.

"We must find an agreement," he said on Sunday.

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