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Bavarian premier Seehofer reaches out to settle standoff with Merkel

Between migration and the right-wing AfD, the conservative Seehofer has criticized the German chancellor's policies. But ahead of contentious elections in 2017, Bavaria's premier says reconciliation is a "top priority."

Bavarian premier

Horst Seehofer

told German newspaper "Bild am Sonntag" that he reached out to German Chancellor Angela Merkel to end a bitter dispute between their respective parties.

"The chancellor and I have once again laid a foundation of trust upon which we can build on," Seehofer said.

Seehofer serves as leader of Bavaria's Christian Social Union (CSU), the sister party to Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU). Last year he became a vocal

critic of Merkel's open door policy

to Syrian refugees fleeing war in their home country despite being a

coalition partner

in the CDU-led government.

According to a survey by the pollster Emnid, 38 percent of respondents see Seehofer as the main culprit behind the dispute, while 26 percent blame Merkel. Another 14 percent said both politicians were at-fault.

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Top priority

Reconciliation between the two sister parties is a "top priority" ahead of federal elections slated for 2017, the Bavarian premier added.

In May, German magazine "Spiegel" reported that next year's election could see Seehofer's CSU campaign even more independently than in 2013.

Members of both parties have blamed the rise of the

right-wing Alternative for Germany

(AfD) on the other, with Seehofer reportedly saying that the

CSU would launch its own election campaign

if the CDU failed to reign in the AfD's surging popularity.

'Attacks against Merkel'

Meanwhile, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, a CDU member, on Wednesday

lashed out at the CSU

for what he characterized as one-sided attacks against Merkel.

"I have to reject the formulation 'dispute between Merkel and Seehofer' … These are attacks against Merkel," Schäuble told German broadcaster ZDF.

"There is nothing comparable from the CDU toward the CSU, neither toward the party as a whole nor toward individuals," he said of the CSU's "attacks."

ls/jr (dpa, Reuters, AFP)

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