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German coalition talks flounder as disagreements persist

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s efforts to forge a three-way ruling coalition dragged into the wee hours of Friday, with some participants warning that differences on climate, migration and finances could still cause the talks to collapse.

The conservative leader had set Thursday as a deadline for exploratory talks about forming a coalition with the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) and the environmentalist Greens – a combination untested at the national level that would allow her to govern for a fourth term as German chancellor.

Merkel, 63, had told reporters on Thursday that serious differences remained and the talks could take many hours. Participants girded for a marathon session, or what German media have called the “night of the long knives.”

The mood soured noticeably late on Thursday, with parties breaking off to huddle in their respective caucuses before senior negotiators resumed tough discussions on migration.

Senior FDP official Alexander Lambsdorff described –serious faces– in a post on Twitter, while FDP deputy leader Wolfgang Kubicki suggested an extension of the talks might be needed.

Conservative participants conceded the talks were not going well. The Greens and the Bavarian wing of the conservatives, the Christian Social Union (CSU), even accused each other of blocking an agreement.

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