January 7, 2018 / 9:28 AM / 2 months ago

Merkel optimistic at start of government talks with Social Democrats

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Sunday she was “optimistic” going into exploratory talks with the Social Democrats (SPD), whose leader Martin Schulz said his party would not draw any red lines at the start of discussions.

Leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the acting German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Social Democratic Party (SPD) leader Martin Schulz shakes hands before exploratory talks about forming a new coalition government at the SPD headquarters in Berlin, Germany, January 7, 2018. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

Merkel’s conservative bloc and the SPD have scheduled five days of talks to see if they can find enough common ground to form a re-run of the ‘grand coalition’ that has governed Germany for the last four years.

Horst Seehofer, leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU) - the Bavarian sister party to Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) - said he was going into the talks in “high spirits” and said the parties needed to come to an agreement.

Reporting by Michelle Martin; editing by John Stonestreet

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