BERLIN (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel asked her European Union partners Friday for patience in discussing the bloc's future as she engages in what could be lengthy efforts to form a government.

Germany's Sept. 24 election left Merkel trying to form a new coalition made up of her conservative Union bloc, the pro-business Free Democrats and the traditionally left-leaning Greens. The combination hasn't been tried before at the national level in Germany.

Exploratory talks opened Wednesday and stepped up Friday, when representatives of the potential partners all met together for the first time. The discussions are scheduled through Nov. 2, but it is likely to be weeks or months before they conclude.

Merkel said after an EU summit in Brussels Friday that the talks will include EU-related issues such as the eurozone's future.

"It's not yet foreseeable when I can present results, and we will need in the coming weeks respect for the formation of a government in Germany," she told reporters.

The prospective coalition partners have differing views on issues such as taxes, the environment, admitting migrants and the fallout from the eurozone debt crisis.

"There is certainly a readiness on my part to think creatively," Merkel said after arriving back in Berlin later Friday.

"But what must stand above everything is: what do people in this country expect of us? What do they expect for their lives?" she added. "We must sound out whether we can form a government that can deliver what is important for our country — for jobs, for security in a comprehensive sense."

Merkel's partners in the outgoing government, the center-left Social Democrats, have vowed to go into opposition after a stinging election defeat.