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Germany's top parties 'reach deal' on Merkel coalition

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08th-Feb-2018       
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AFP, Berlin :
Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives and the Social Democrats sealed a deal Wednesday on a new coalition, officials close to the talks said, potentially ending four months of political standstill in Europe's top economy.
The sources told AFP the parties had ironed out their final differences and were ready to sign an agreement for Merkel's fourth term.
Public broadcaster ARD said the final disputes had centred around "ministry remits and personnel questions".
The breakthrough will come as a relief to Germany's EU partners as the bloc faces tough negotiations on migration and Brexit.
Merkel, Europe's most experienced leader, has seen her standing at home and abroad weakened by the longest stretch of coalition-building in the country's postwar history.
But before she can be sworn in, a final hurdle looms: the hard-fought pact between her CDU/CSU bloc and the Social Democratic Party must still be approved by the SPD's sceptical rank-and-file .
The agreement for a renewed "grand coalition" comes after days of marathon talks in which negotiators from all three parties haggled over everything from foreign policy to labour issues and healthcare.
Germany has been stuck in political limbo since September's inconclusive general election saw mainstream parties bleed support to the far-right AfD, which tapped into anger over Merkel's liberal refugee policy.

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