BONN, Germany (AP) _ Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder will open roundtable talks Dec. 7 with industry and labor on ways to put the country's nearly 4 million unemployed back to work, the government said Friday.

``This will be a first sizing-up,'' of the so-called Alliance for Jobs, said Uwe-Karsten Heye, the chancellor's spokesman.

The alliance is a key project of Schroeder's government, which was elected largely on promises to cut unemployment, now at 10.1 percent.

Along with Schroeder, government ministers attending would include Finance Minister Oskar Lafontaine, Economics Minister Werner Mueller and Labor Minister Walter Riester, Heye said.

Four of Germany's biggest employer's associations and several major unions also would attend the talks, which are to continue through the administration's entire four-year term, he said.

Preliminary talks next Thursday would focus on drawing up an agenda, he said.

One idea touted recently by Schroeder is lowering the official retirement age to 60 to open up jobs for younger people.

Labor Minister Riester backed the idea Friday.

``It's a very interesting point of view that should be discussed by the alliance,'' Riester said on Suedwestfunk radio.

A federal research institute has drawn up a jobs creation plan which includes increasing public investment, lowering taxes, creating more part-time jobs and getting rid of overtime.