Germany's Social Democrats to talk with Merkel on new gov't

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives for an EU summit at the EU Council building in Brussels on Friday, Dec. 15, 2017. European union leaders meet Friday to launch Brexit talks into a new phase and to discuss the euro and banking union. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)

BERLIN — Leaders of Germany's center-left Social Democrats have agreed to enter exploratory talks on a new government led by Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Andrea Nahles, the Social Democrats' parliamentary leader, said the party leadership decided unanimously yesterday to start talks with Merkel's conservative Union bloc.

The two parties have governed Germany in a coalition for the past four years, but the Social Democrats initially said after a disastrous election result in September that they would go into opposition.

The Social Democrats reluctantly reconsidered after Merkel's talks with two smaller parties collapsed last month.

Now, they say they will consider either a formal coalition deal or looser arrangement that allows a Merkel-led government to be formed.

Nahles said that, following initial talks, a party congress next month will decide on the next steps.

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