German party leaders meet ahead of coalition talks

January 3, 2018

German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives for pre-talks on forming a new government coalition in Berlin Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018. (Soeren Stache/dpa via AP)

BERLIN (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel is meeting with the leaders of two other parties to prepare the ground for preliminary coalition talks starting Sunday.

Martin Schulz of the center-left Social Democrats said the talks Wednesday would focus on technical issues rather than political substance.

Schulz and Merkel are joined by the chancellor’s Bavarian ally, Horst Seehofer, whose party has demanded a tougher line on immigration.

Seehofer’s center-right Christian Social Union is holding a three-day meeting starting Thursday to discuss its political positions.

The parties formed the “grand coalition” that has ruled Germany since 2013, but all three lost votes in September’s national election.

The failure to form a new government has left Germany without new leadership following an election for the longest period since 1949.

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